Grand Prairie—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 46 percent of car and booster seats for children ages 1 to 13 are installed incorrectly. However, the Grand Prairie Police Department is doing its part to lower those numbers through its car seat installation program.
In December 2017, Officer Edgar Molina, who is entering his fifth year as a member of the Grand Prairie Police Department, started the program after working in a similar program during his eight years with the Dallas Police Department.
“They wanted me to go to this class,” Molina said. “It was a week’s worth of training.
“These were instructors from hospitals, Texas DPS troopers and nurses who have been doing this for years, really great instructors. There were nurses, firefighters, police officers [taking the class].”
After coming to Grand Prairie, Molina noticed there was no car seat program in place, so he proposed starting one to his superiors.
Nearly five years later, Molina, along with members of the Traffic Division, are available to meet with parents from around DFW, help them pick out an appropriate seat(s) for their children and install them properly.
As a parent, Molina admits educating himself about car seats made him realize how little he knew before becoming involved with this program.
“When I did my installations, I followed the manual’s instructions, but I didn’t know [car seats] have an expiration date,” Molina said. “I thought you could just use them until they break or something. I also didn’t know about registering them. Whenever you purchase a car seat, it comes with two things-a manual and a registration card.”
Molina recommends parents look on the bottom of any car seats they purchase for pertinent information like model number, date of manufacture, and in some cases an expiration date.
However, in the event there is no expiration date listed on the seat, Molina recommends using a car seat’s amanufacture dateplus six years as an expiration date.
“All the padding and cushioning tends to wear out after so many years,” Molina said. “I compare it to tires on a vehicle. It’s the same concept. After so many miles, your tires are going to wear out, and you’re going to have to swap them out eventually.
“Could you still drive on them? Sure, but should you? Probably not. Having more tread helps with your stopping distance in rain or things like that. That cushioning and padding is supposed to be protecting the child. It shrinks; it shrivels; it just wears out. Some might last eight years, but I always say six because that is the best time to [replace them].”
Molina is also an advocate of parents submitting registration cards for their car seats.
Submitting a registration card, which can be done by mail, online or by phone, lets the manufacturer inform parents of any safety issues with the seat. Some manufacturers send safety tips and other beneficial information to parents.
Police Chief Daniel Scesney is one of the program’s biggest advocates.
“The proper use of child safety seats is critical for keeping children safe during a collision,” Scesney said. “Our certified officers stand ready to install safety seats for any parent to ensure their child remains safe.”
At times, officers have purchased car seats for families who needed them.
“There are programs that can assist with getting you a new [car seat],” Molina said. “We are looking at getting funded through donationsto get car seats for those who might need them.”
Parents interested in the program can learn more by visiting the Grand Prairie Police Department website, where parents can see a video in English and Spanish of Molina giving a brief presentation on car seats.