Program Reminds Parents, Put Kids in Car Seats

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When it is time go run errands, Alice Kirk's three-year-old son Michael knows he has to be buckled in his car seat before the vehicle is started.

"We have the primary responsible for instilling helpful behaviors in our children," Kirk said. "What better time than at a really early age."

The Brazos Valley Regional Advisory Council and the Texas Department of Transportation are funding a program that they have introduced called Please Be Seated. It has been making head way here in the Brazos Valley with the help of the Brazos Valley Injury Prevention Coalition. College Station Medical Center's Trauma Coordinator Rick Moore said the program is aimed at sending a message to moms and dads that kids need to be seated and properly restrained in a car seat.

"That's what this program is going to do," Moore said. "It's going give them that information so that they can make sure that their children are safe."

The program calls for citizens to observe what is going on in vehicles around them. If they see a child not being restrained in a car or booster seat they are instructed to jot down the license plate number, and what the child was doing onto a postcard.

The postcard is then mailed to the local district office of the Texas Department of Transportation. Parents are not issued tickets, instead they are sent a letter from TxDot telling them they were seen driving around with an unrestrained child.

"Many cases we find they don't know the law," Moore said. "They don't know where to get the information."

So, to make sure parents have no excuse they are also sent educational information and a list of local child safety technicians who can help them select the right car seat and how to properly install and use them. The Please Be Seated program is asking residents to take an active role in the welfare of others' children on the road. It seems parents in general like Marc Muntea are okay with the idea.

"I think it's a great idea because I think all children should be restrained," Muntea said. "I mean, I don't think they should be where they can be loose and have an accident in the car. You know, the kid goes flying."

Parent Tracy Gillett believes it is important for everyone to act in the best interest of area children regardless of who the parents are.

"We kind of invade each other's privacy everyday when we go out into the public, but you know it's not like we're having them arrested or anything," Gillett said. "They're just getting information simply to remind them."

Ultimately the program's goal is to buckle down on the occurrence of child injuries and deaths in accidents. Please Be Seated postcards are available at area pediatrician offices, the county courthouse, both libraries, area hospitals, and the Bryan DPS office.