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NPPD Crime Prevention Tip:

Children, Automobile Safety and School


The safety of children in and around automobiles is the concern of all parents, and as children come of school age it also becomes a priority of school administrators and local police departments.  From the beginning children should be secured in approved child safety seats, it’s the law in nearly all states, including New Jersey.  Recently Consumer Reports did a review of child safety seats in the February and October 2007 editions of the monthly publication.  If you are in the market to purchase one, you may want to review the articles for recommendations.  

Once the seat is purchased, it must be installed correctly to protect the child.  In New Jersey motor vehicle law requires children eight years and under and children under eighty pounds to be secured in a child passenger restraint system or “booster seat”. 
If the vehicle has rear seats, the child is required to be in the rear seat area.    In New Jersey some police departments now have officers that have received advanced training designating them as certified child safety seat technicians.  If you are a resident of North Plainfield, you may schedule an appointment with Detective Fowler or Officer Weber.  Check with your local police department to see if they have such a program.  The officer may be able to schedule an appointment where your new seat can be properly installed; or your existing seat can be checked to ensure that it has been properly installed.

As children grow, encourage safe habits such as crossing only in designated crossing walks and following pedestrian crossing signals.  In residential and rural areas make sure they understand to look both ways before crossing streets, or going in the street to retrieve an errant ball.  As they enter the school years, your example and direction will continue to be critical.  When dropping off and picking up children at school do so only in designated areas.  Most schools have designated traffic safety plans to ensure the safety of children.  If you are unsure, check with the transportation coordinator; principal’s office; Parent/Teacher Association; School Resource Officer or the traffic safety unit at your local police department. 

Improperly discharging and picking up children is against the law, punishable with a summons.  New Jersey motor vehicle law forbids the discharge or pickup of passengers from anywhere other then the curb or side of the road.  This is a dangerous practice, but it is especially dangerous when done with young school age children.  Parents may be tempted to do this to save time or reduce the walk to the school door in inclement weather by letting off children while stopped in traffic.  The danger of having a child exit a vehicle in traffic and then weave through the vehicles on foot is just never worth the risk.  Small children may be unseen, and may be easily distracted by friends.

Not to be forgotten is the safety of teens.  Once children are in high school they may be offered or request rides from other students and friends.  Find out who the driver is and ask yourself if you are comfortable with your child being in a vehicle driven by that young man or lady.  Newspaper headlines constantly remind us of the tragedies that can occur when young inexperienced drivers are distracted or preoccupied with cell phones.