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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Local groups stress the importance of child safety restraints
Pendleton and local law enforcement visited all 12 county elementary schools
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Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston: Amy Pendleton with the Franklin County Perinatal Education Center hands out flyers and information to parents picking up their children from Ferrum Elementary School.

Friday, October 5, 2012

By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer

The Franklin County Perinatal Education Center, Franklin County public schools, Franklin County Sheriff's Office and the Rocky Mount Police Department have teamed up to remind parents of the importance of proper child safety restraints and the repercussions of not following Virginia seatbelt laws.

During the months of August and September, Pendleton and local law enforcement visited all 12 county elementary schools, handing out 779 information packets and talking with parents about the importance of child safety seat and seat belt use for children of all ages.

The information packets, which were distributed as children were being picked up from school, included a copy of Virginia's Child Passenger Safety Laws, traffic safety program activity book and a child Passenger Safety Informational brochure.

"The laws have been in effect for a while, but a lot of people have not been following them," said Amy Pendleton, director of the Perinatal Education Center. "While some parents objected to being told about the importance of child safety restraints, many were interested in the laws regarding the safety of their children."

Child restraint devices are required for children through the age of 7 (until their 8th birthday). Safety seats must be properly used and approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation standards. There is no height or weight requirement associated with this law, Pendleton said. The Virginia law is based solely on age.

Rear-facing child restraint devices must be placed in the back seat of a vehicle. In the event the vehicle does not have a back seat, the child restraint device may be placed in the front passenger seat only if the vehicle is either not equipped with a passenger side airbag or the passenger side airbag has been deactivated, Pendleton added. Children can no longer ride unrestrained in the rear cargo area of vehicles.

The law applies to anyone (parents, grandparents, babysitters, friends) who provides transportation for a child in any vehicle manufactured after Jan. 1, 1968. Public transportation (taxis, buses), regulation school buses and farm vehicles are exempted.

The child restraint law is primary enforcement, meaning that no other violation need be committed prior to ticketing for failure to have a child in an approved seat.

A $50 civil penalty fine is imposed for failure to have a child in a proper restraint device. Any person found guilty a second or subsequent time, on different dates, will be fined up to $500. An additional $20 civil penalty fine is assessed when persons transporting a child exempted from this law due to medical reasons do not carry a written statement of the exemption.

All fines collected go into a special fund to purchase safety seats for low-income families. Assistance programs for low-income residents who cannot afford a safety seat can be obtained by contacting the Virginia Department of Heath, Division of Injury and Violence Prevention at 1-800-732-8333.

Children ages 8 through 17 must be belted correctly in vehicle safety belts in vehicles manufactured after Jan. 1, 1968. Exemptions are taxicabs, school buses, executive sedans and limousines. This safety belt law is also primary enforcement, meaning no other violation need be committed prior to ticketing for failure to have a child correctly buckled up.

No person under age 16 shall be transported in the rear cargo area of a pickup truck. There are exemptions for certain parades or farming operations.

"Thanks to all who participated in the effort to ensure the safety of children in motor vehicles," said Pendleton.

For more information, contact Pendleton at 540-483-1800 or the Injury Prevention Hotline at 1-800-732-8333.

 
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