Niles’ State Police safe check car seats

Published 2:32 am Wednesday, September 22, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Michigan State Police were busy making sure that local children were riding safe in their parents' cars Saturday.
The Michigan State Police held a free car seat check at the Niles Wal-Mart Supercenter, 2107 S. 11th St., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Trooper Robert Herbstreith, with help from the Niles Kiwanis Club, Lakeland Regional Medical Health System, and Community Hospital of Watervilet, made sure car seats were properly fastened and even replaced defective or recalled ones.
Three convertible car seats were donated by the Berrien County chapter of Safe Kids, and three booster seats were donated by Wal-Mart.
Herbstreith inspected 16 car seats over the course of four hours, replacing three that were recalled or defective. Of the 16 seats that were checked, only one was properly installed.
In addition to making sure car seats were properly installed, Herbstreith also instructed parents how to do it, so that they would know how to properly install a new seat in the future.
Herbstreith said one of the most common mistakes parents make when installing a car seat is not making sure that the car's seatbelt is holding the car seat in tight enough.
He also said that most seats aren't holding the child tightly, exposing the child to serious injury in the event of a crash.
Herbstreith said about 95 percent of the seats he checks are not secured tight enough.
Michigan law states that all children under the age of three years-old must be fastened in a car seat, with those under one year being required to be in a rear-facing seat.
Herbstreith also handed out a booster seat to one Indiana mom who's 4 year-old was a bit short for the over-the-shoulder seatbelt in her car's backseat.
Herbstreith also used the car seat check as a way to gauge the effectiveness of the new Michigan State Police Niles Post web-site.
Herbsteith said that residents should check the web-site in the future for more events like the car seat checks.
Parents wishing to have the car seat checked by Herbstreith are invited to call him at (269)683-4411 to schedule an appointment at the Niles Law Enforcement Complex.
Herbstreith said that he tries to get appointments scheduled within a day of a parent calling.
Parents can also call Lisa Mattson at Community Hospital of Watervilet at (269)463-3111 extension 289 to schedule an appointment there.