LUFKIN– Car seats work. Just ask Mandy Watson who was in a head-on crash with her 11-month-old and 5-year-old as they were going to lunch more than a decade ago.
“Immediately after the crash, I climbed in the back seat. At that moment I knew it worked. I knew their car seats did everything they were supposed to do, because they were still intact, still in place, and I could hear my babies crying,” said Watson.
Watson had been trained to properly secure her children in their car seats, preventing an unthinkable tragedy. That kind of training is exactly what TxDOT’s “Save Me With a Seat” campaign will teach as it kicks off in September to coincide with National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 17– 23, 2023.
“It’s extremely important that parents schedule a car seat check today,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “Ensuring car seats are installed correctly is one of the most important things a parent or caregiver can do to protect the smallest occupants in a crash.”
In 2022, 72 children younger than 8 years old were killed on Texas roadways; 16 of those who died were unrestrained. Nationwide, 46 percent of all car seats are misused, putting children at risk if they are in a crash.
In 2022, in the nine-county Lufkin District, there were five passenger vehicle crashes that resulted in five serious injuries and no fatalities for children ages 8-12, and there were 11 passenger vehicle crashes that resulted in 13 serious injuries and one fatality for children younger than 8 years old.
Losing a child is a parent’s worst nightmare, but it is often preventable when a car seat is used correctly. This campaign invites parents to schedule a free car seat safety check by visiting SaveMeWithASeat.org and entering their ZIP code to find the nearest TxDOT traffic safety specialist in their area. TxDOT offers free car seat safety checks year-round.
In the Lufkin District, those who would like to schedule a free car-seat check can contact Melissa.McKnight@txdot.gov or call (936) 633-4303 or (936) 219-8922.
With the “Save Me With a Seat” campaign, drivers are reminded that Texas law requires all children under 8 — or shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches — to be in a car seat whenever they ride in a passenger vehicle. Failure to properly restrain a child can result in a ticket of up to $250. In 2022, 72 children younger than 8 years old died in traffic crashes in Texas, and 16 of those were unrestrained at the time of the crash.
During September, the “Save Me With a Seat” campaign will include the “Are You Ready for Takeoff?” interactive educational experience and will make stops in eight Texas cities.
“Save Me With a Seat” is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel, like wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths.
For more information, contact Rhonda.Oaks@txdot.gov or call (936) 633-4395.