JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Car seats.
No doubt about it, they save lives and keep our children safer.
As much fun as it is to wrestle a stubborn two-year-old into a car seat, it is worth it.
Deaths of children in vehicle accidents have dropped by 50% over the last 40 years.
Safer cars, airbags, better technology, they all contribute. But, the child safety car seat has made a significant safety impact.
Now, nearly 40 years after the first laws requiring little ones to be in car seats were enacted, a new concern for those of us who may want to recycle a car seat.
"It breaks down over time," says Sheridan Watts, a Jonesboro police officer.
Watts is nationally certified in car safety seat installation and inspection. He says that baby seat or booster your kid is riding in does eventually wear out.
"You're dealing with a plastic shell. You're dealing with fabric, you're dealing with padding on the inside," Watts said.
One online video reportedly shows a crash test with an expired car seat.
It is a powerful image. Enough for me to check.
I checked the three car seats in our minivan. The baby's seat is good to go. My four-year-old's seat will expire next spring. But, my six-year-old is rolling in a booster that's older than he is.
The seats in my minivan certainly would have gotten the attention of the Arkansas State troopers at a car seat safety check in Newport.
Departments all across the state hold car seat clinics a couple times a year.
At this stop one of the mothers did not know car seats have expiration dates!
"I'm glad I know that now so I can tell my friends," said Constance Hockaday.
"It's just good information to have," said Arkansas State Trooper Phillip Roark. "It's not something we would give a citation for; but, if you are in an accident, you want the best protection possible for your child."
Even though you cannot get a ticket for having an expired car seat, Jennifer Ballard, who was at that clinic at ASU Newport, probably said it best.
"It's not worth taking a chance on," Ballard said. "If the rule says change it out within five years it will be changed within that five year period."
In most of the car seats we checked the manufacturer suggested a six-year lifespan for a car seat.
Officer Watts says no matter how long you've had a car seat, it's only designed to be in one accident that is bad enough for the airbag to deploy. If that happens, you need to throw away that car seat and get another one.
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