Careful how you buckle children into vehicles
A $25 minimum fine for improper use of child restraints is the best thing that could happen to violators.
Lawrence County is one of 15 counties where the state Department of Public Health found a high percentage of misuse. While 92 percent of Lawrence drivers buckle in the children, 43 percent of children ages 5 and under were riding in the front seat and wearing only a seat belt.
That's against the law designed to protect youngsters better if they are involved in a crash.
Alabama's new law doesn't go as far as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's guidelines, which protect children even better.
They deserve repeating because many motorists simply are not aware that they are putting youngsters at risk. Children up to 1-year old and weighing 20 pounds should ride in the back seat in a rear-facing car seat. Children from age 1 and 20 pounds to about age 4 and 40 pounds should ride in forward-facing seats for toddlers in the backseat. Children should ride in a booster seat in the back seat from age 4 and 40 pounds to at least age 8, or until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall. Children younger than 12 should always ride in the back seat.
Records show that in 2005, 1,135 people died and more than 44,000 suffered injuries in motor vehicle crashes in Alabama.
Those statistics are worth remembering each time you buckle in your youngsters and decide where you allow them to ride.
Youngsters accustomed from infancy to using proper restraints and placement in a vehicle continue with good safety habits as they age.