MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Louisiana State Police and Sparks Nissan are preparing parents for a new law change set to take effect in a couple of months.
Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill last week that changes existing laws for child passenger safety seats.
On Saturday, LSP and local reps at Sparks went hands-on to make sure drivers and their kids are well prepared.
The troopers and the dealership offered free car seat checks to make sure the little ones are strapped in safely. Erica Miller, with Sparks Nissan, says this is gives the dealership an opportunity to help its community.
"This is just a small way for us to give back and make sure the littlest and most vulnerable lives are protected," Miller says.
The new law goes into effect August 1st, but LSP saw the early part of summer as the perfect time to prepare parents.
"Traveling season is upon us now,” LSP says Michael Reichardt, Troop F trooper. “The summer is just beginning. A lot of people are going on vacation. So, it's good to have their seat checked and make sure their kids are safe before they leave town and go places."
Reichardt says it's important to check, because there's only one way to do it right and a lot of ways to do it wrong.
"We see a lot of misuses. Probably 90 to 95 percent of the car seats we check are installed incorrectly," says Reichardt.
But, it's easy to see why. It's not as easy as it looks.
"It's a lot of moving parts. You have to have the straps a certain tightness. The harness clip needs to be at the armpit level. You can either use the seatbelt or the lower anchors. There's a lot of things with the seat in putting it in," says Reichardt.
Reichardt’s advice is simple. He says, "so, the best thing to do is put it in yourself, and if you don't think it's in there correctly, let us show you how to do it."
That’s advice Miller and her husband took to heart.
"I have a five and a half-year-old little boy,” Miller says. “Right before he was born, my husband actually went out to the state police troop and had it installed to make sure that we had it done correctly. We were first-time parents, and we just wanted to make sure we had no mistakes made, so they did it for us."
Troop F will help you too. You can drive by the office or call to schedule an appointment with them or at the Ouachita Parish Health Unit to let a certified technician help you.
Most importantly, Reichardt reminds parents one thing.
"Just remember your kids cannot buckle themselves up,” Reichardt says. “That's the adult's responsibility that the kids are buckled up properly. So, make sure that you not only wear your seat belt, make sure your kids are buckled up correctly."
To set up an appointment, you can call Troop F at (318) 345-0000 or (318) 345-2810.