Safety seat violations in Richmond County continue to rise

News 12 First at Five / Monday, July 14, 2014

Nicole Slappy (WRDW-TV)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A Richmond County mother is facing charges after deputies find close to a pound of marijuana in her car.

Deputies say they stopped Nicole Slappy for having a dark tint on her windows when they found the drugs. They also found Slappy's two children -- completely unrestrained. And that seems to be a big problem.

Snap snap and buckle. That's all it takes. And Rene Hopkins with Safe Kids Augusta says, it's essential.

"We don't have the right to take a risk with another person's life," Hopkins said.

Ninety-four safety seat violations in Richmond County in just the past two weeks. Cpl. Chuck Benson with Richmond County Sheriff's Office says, it's a problem.

Close to twenty percent of those people are repeat offenders. The only thing deputies can do about it is give parents a ticket. "With a speeding ticket we're putting everyone else on the road at risk, with this we're putting our children at risk. Our own child," Hopkins said.

Last year there were more than 1,500 citations in the county. This year there are already almost 700. But Hopkins says, she's happy to see those numbers. "It shows we're paying attention to this problem, and we're going to fix it. So yes, I'm ecstatic," she said.

The citations aren't just from people not using their car seats correctly, it's usually from not using one at all, something officers can't ignore. "Without anything on they become a forty or fifty pound bullet going straight through the dashboard," Benson said.

Something he's seen too many times. "I never want to see a child fatality again," he said.

So he and Rene Hopkins are fighting to keep ticket numbers up to keep child fatalities down.

Deputies want you to know just having a safety seat isn't always enough. You have to make sure it's installed properly, and it's not expired.

They say a car seat that's been in one car accident, is no longer safe for your child. Straps in older seats can also stretch, so make sure you child's seat is up to date. If you do have any questions about if you are using the right seat for your child, you can visit Safe Kids in Augusta.

They will do a free safety seat check to make sure everyone is secure.

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