Memorial Day weekend will be here in less than two weeks. Illinois State Police launched a safety program called “Operation Kid” to help keep children safe as the summer driving season begins.
This year will be the 10th year state police team up with the Illinois Tollway to host a series of events to keeps kids safely buckled in car seats – and safe, period.
ISP geared up for their first Operation Kid event of the year Saturday at the Children’s Museum of Oak Lawn. They will have plenty of fun activities, but the main goal is to make sure child-safety seats are installed correctly.
“Information and data shows us that 90 percent of all car seats are installed improperly. We want to make sure District 15 state police show our customers exactly the right way to install a child-safety seat,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Greg Bedalov said.
It can be confusing. It’s not just the installation, but making sure parents have the right restraining system for their child’s age, weight and height.
“You start off with an infant seat, then you go to a convertible seat, then either a high-back booster with a harness or without a harness, to a booster. After a booster, once your child is eight and meets the requirements, they can get out of that booster and get in a regular seatbelt in the car,” District 15 Illinois State Trooper David Roman said.
The tollway safety events will be held at a variety of locations from children’s museums to the tollway oases. State police want parents to be involved and said not to worry if their seat isn’t properly installed when they arrive. They won’t get a ticket.
“No! Absolutely not, not ticket! It’s a free event. We just want to make sure people are leaving safer than how they came in,” Roman said.
The other part of the event will provide free photo IDs and fingerprints of children age three and older. State police said 90 percent of families will, at some point, lose a child in a public place.
“Having that photo ID provides critical information – hair color, skin color, height – we can get to state police in case they need to mobilize resources to find that child,” Bedalov said.
There will be ten kid identification and safety seat events held on Saturdays through the summer. The last one at the Illinois Tollway’s Family Safety Fair Sept. 23 at its headquarters in southwest suburban Downers Grove.