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Child Passenger Safety Takes Center Stage in September

The USVI will join the rest of the U.S. by participating in Child Passenger Safety Week – Oct. 17-23 – aimed to educate, engage, and encourage caregivers to make safe choices when transporting children in their care, the V.I. Office of Highway Safety (VIOHS) and the VI Police Department announced in a press release Thursday.

VIPD Officer Shaverna Chooran engages caregiver at Juanita Gardine K8 School and provides application information for free booster seat. (Submitted photo)

The VIOHS Occupant Protection Program engaged public elementary schools – epicenters
for caregivers of young children in the territory – and erected banners on each campus
explaining USVI child passenger safety laws. VIPD traffic officers also visited schools
during the dismissal hour to educate caregivers observed transporting child passengers
unsafely and provided flyers inviting caregivers to apply for no- to low-cost booster seats
through VIOHS, according to the press release.

Another happy child in his new car seat. (Submitted photo)

“Education and resources are critical components in helping caregivers choose safety for child passengers,” offered VIPD Commissioner Ray A. Martinez. “VIPD is committed to supporting efforts that reduce unnecessary injuries and fatalities for child crash victims.” Following the provision of education and resources, high visibility enforcement is planned. “Enforcement is that final but necessary push to convince caregivers to make safe choices to protect those in their care,” stated Martinez.

During September, the agency also hosted car seat distribution events and car seat safety
checks in each district. Through the initiatives, 115 car seats and over 340 booster seats were distributed to caregivers in need, the press release stated.

Caregiver works with CPS Technician to safely install new car seat. (Submitted photo)

“The Virgin Islands Office of Highway Safety sincerely thanks community partners who stepped up for our children by donating over 90 percent of the booster seats provided to the community,” expressed VIOHS Director Daphne O’Neal. “We also thank caregivers who benefitted from distribution efforts, making a conscious choice to secure their precious cargo. We have a long way to go in our journey to reduce crash risks for vehicle occupants. However, this is a great start,” she said.

Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians were on hand to assist caregivers with the safe use and installation of the safety seats, the release stated.

For more information on child passenger safety or the VIOHS Car Seat Loaner Program, contact the Virgin Islands Office of Highway Safety through Director O’Neal at daphne.oneal@vipd.vi.gov or Occupant Protection Planner/Coordinator Denise Gomes at denise.gomes@vipd.vi.gov or via telephone at (340) 473-7383.

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