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Marysville, Arlington motorists can check child car seats for National Child Passenger Safety Week

Sept. 12-18 is this year's National Child Passenger Safety Week, a time for parents to review and refine how children are transported in cars.

Parents and caregivers who transport children in their cars can locate certified child passenger safety technicians, who will teach them how to buckle up children and properly install car seats, by visiting the Washington State Safety Restraint Coalition Web site, at www.800bucklup.org, and clicking on "Car Seat Checks" in the left column.

Kristen Thorstenson of the Marysville Fire District can be contacted at 360-363-8507, while Elaine Coalwell of Cascade Valley Hospital can be contacted at 360-618-7609. Both conduct car seat checks by appointment.

Washington's child restraint law was passed in 1983 and became effective in 1984, making this year the 25th anniversary of the law.

As first enacted, the law required a driver to buckle a baby in a child safety seat until only 1 year of age, and that was required only when the child was being transported in the vehicle of a parent or legal guardian. If a driver was transporting a neighbor's child, the law did not apply.

In 2007, a more progressive child passenger restraint law went into effect, which mandates that children ride in a properly used and installed child restraint system, such as a car seat or a booster seat, until the age of 8, unless they are already 4 feet 9 inches tall. Children under the age of 13 must also ride in the back seat whenever it is practical to do so.

Nationally, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children aged 3-6 and 8-14. In 2007, 6,532 passenger vehicle occupants 14 years or younger were involved in fatal crashes.

In Washington State in 2003, there were 15 traffic deaths of children aged 9 or younger, and eight during 2008, reflecting almost a 50 percent drop in traffic fatalities involving young children.

To report an unbuckled or improperly restrained child in a vehicle, call 1-800-282-5587. The registered owner will be sent a letter detailing Washington state's child passenger restraint law, and encouraging them to buckle children up properly.

For additional information about the Washington State Safety Restraint Coalition, call 1-800-282-5587 or visit their Web site at www.800bucklup.org.

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