Natchez drivers score above average in use of child restraints

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2000

Natchez residents scored above the state average in child restraint usage in a recent survey.

Angie Brown, assistant coordinator with the Natchez Police Department, said during a survey conducted last month at seven daycare centers, 76 percent of the people placed their children in child restraint seats and were using them correctly.

The state average for 1999 was 63.2 percent.

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&uot;I was really surprised that it turned out so well,&uot; Brown said.

But at the same time, Brown said she still saw many cases of child restraint misuse. For example, some parents were placing children in child seats without fastening the shoulder harnesses, placing children in a car seat that was not attached to the vehicle’s seat belt or placing children in front of air bags.

&uot;It’s going to take a lot of education and enforcement to change some attitudes and behavior,&uot; Brown said, because some misuse is deadly.

Brown said she also saw many parents who unbuckled their children while waiting in a line to drop them off at daycare.

Brown said she understand this but thinks it is best to wait &uot;until you’re at a stop at a designated drop-off area before you unbuckle that child.&uot;

State law requires all children from ages 4 to 8 to wear seat belts. Children less than four-years-old must be fastened in a child-safety seat.

The Natchez Police Department plans to continue enforcement of child restraint laws and seatbelt laws in the upcoming months.

In August, police officials determined 45 percent of Natchez residents were wearing their seatbelts. That was up from 39 percent in May but still below the state’s 1999 average of 54.5 percent.

A grant from the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety is helping to fund the project.