Police cracking down on child restraint violations

State police are cracking down on improper restraints of children in car.
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Police are cracking down on parents who aren't properly strapping their children into car seats.

Eyewitness News saw one toddler Wednesday riding in the back seat of a car. He had a child safety seat, but he wasn't buckled in, just hanging out the window unrestrained.

A few minutes later, we saw a van and a young boy sitting in a middle seat. No safety seat, not even wearing his seatbelt until we alerted his driver.

We saw another toddler sitting on the driver's lap, rolling through a busy shopping center.

We asked a teacher at a school on the west side if it scared her to see that.

"Yes," she said, adding that her school talks to parents about the issue. "We encourage them to use seat belts."

But not everyone does.

"Sometimes it's not just unrestrained, but not properly restrained. They've got the child in the seat, but the seat's not buckled into the car," said ISP Sgt. Rich Myers.

So far this year, state police alone have written 1,327 tickets for a lack of proper child restraints.

"That doesn't surprise me," said one mother strapping her daughter into her child seat outside a daycare. "Everybody I know is using seatbelts."

That mom, Jennifer, and daughter Asia are part of the bright spot in this story. Since 2010, state police stats show a steady drop in tickets for child restraint violations.

From 4,156 tickets in 2010, to 3,439 citations in 2011, to 3,236 last year. If trends continue, 2013 will see almost 20 percent fewer citations than last year.

Myers says public education and increased police patrols have produced positive results. He reminds motorists "the safest place for the car seat, if you've got one child, is in the back in the middle."

He says that's the spot where the least compression of the vehicle should occur in a wreck.

Monday night, an eight-year-old child survived a wreck at 64th and Washington Boulevard, despite not being properly restrained.

"The child was riding on a man's lap. Whoever allowed that, shame on them," said a spokesperson with IFD.

Police smelled alcohol on the man at the scene and drew blood at the hospital. They're awaiting lab tests. If there are charges, they could include neglect of a dependent causing serious bodily injury.

Child car seat inspections