Members of the Saskatchewan RCMP’s traffic services in the province’s southeast have been replacing unsafe child safety seats and booster seats they encounter during roadside stops for free.
The effort is funded through a child seat grant program managed by Saskatchewan Government Insurance and the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute.
Sgt. Erin Lockyer, who is in charge of the Combined Traffic Services unit that oversees Yorkton, Broadview and Fort Qu’Appelle, said all of the unit’s police vehicles carry a new child car seat, funded through the provincial grant program.
During a roadside stop, if an officer sees a car seat in the vehicle is expired, broken or inappropriate for the child, the officer gives the new seat as a replacement. So far this year, Lockyer said her unit distributed 30 to 40 seats and the majority have been child boosters.
“Let me tell you, the parents are eternally grateful,” she said.
Often, if the seat found in the vehicle is in very poor condition or highly inappropriate, the driver is ticketed, she added.
The car seat grant program awards up to $2,500 to each organization that successfully applies for funding.
According to SGI, the funds go to law enforcement, non-profits that work with families facing financial hardship, and groups for that help newcomers to Canada.
Lockyer, who is also an instructor for car safety seat technicians, said most parents have good intentions and should seek advice from a technician, who can be found on SGI’s website. Sometimes, online information about car seat guidelines may be from other countries, she added.
She also advises caregivers to not be in a rush to move a child to the next stage seat, such as from a forward-facing seat to a booster.
There are four stages: rear-facing seats, forward-facing seats, boosters and seatbelts.
“Always err on the side of caution of the lower stage,” Lockyer said.