By Wendy Osher
Maui police will be monitoring local elementary schools this week as part of a statewide effort to ensure the use of child safety and booster seats, said Maui Police Traffic Division Commander, Lieutenant Ricky Uedoi.
The campaign is part of Child Passenger Safety Week in Hawaiʻi which runs through Saturday, Sept. 21.
Under state law, children under four years or age are required to ride in a child safety seat; and those four to seven years of age are required to ride either in a child safety seat or booster seat.
Maui police say violators face fines up to $500 and have to take a child passenger safety class.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children in the US, according information provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and detailed by the state.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 3,661 children between the ages of one and 13 were killed in car crashes during the five year period ending in 2011.
Here in Hawaiʻi, five children under the age of eight died in the last five years in motor vehicle crashes, according to Lt. Uedoi.
“Although the number may not seem significant, the death of even one child is unacceptable,” said Lt. Uedoi. “Child safety seats reduce the likelihood of an infant being killed in a vehicle crash by 71% and reduce the likelihood to toddlers (between the ages of one and four) by 54%.”
The state campaign was announced in a proclamation made by Governor Neil Abercrombie on Monday. The week-long campaign includes participation from all four county police departments and the state Department of Education.
It is part of a larger campaign taking place across the nation to improve compliance and share information on proper installation and use of child safety seats.
In observance of National and State Child Passenger Safety Week, the Maui Police Department will also be participating in a free child seat inspection this Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Maui Marketplace on Dairy Road in Kahului.