© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001
Re: Child Passenger Safety Week, Feb. 11-17.
Ninety-six percent of parents believe their children are properly buckled in their child-safety seats. Data from actual inspections, however, show that four out of every five children in child-safety seats are improperly restrained. When the appropriate seat is properly installed and used, it can reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. Child car-crash fatalities have dropped 16 percent since 1996, and seat-belt use has reached an all-time high of 71 percent nationwide. However, much more needs to be done to protect families on America's roads.
There are four steps to child-passenger safety, and I urge all adults to follow these and keep our children safe:
1. Use rear-facing child seats for children from birth to at least 20 pounds and at least 1 year of age.
2. Use forward-facing child seats for children over 20 pounds and at least 1 year old to about 40 pounds and about age 4.
Seat belts can seriously injure or kill small children who are not properly placed in child-safety seats, so...
3. Use belt-positioning booster seats for children from about 40 pounds to 80 pounds and 4-feet-9 inches tall.
4. Use seat belts for older children large enough for the belt to fit correctly: at least 4-feet-9 inches tall and about 80 pounds.
In Pinellas County, the Florida Suncoast SAFE KIDS Coalition sponsors a telephone hot line that will give information on where child-safety seats can be inspected or installed. Call 892-KIDS. There's just too much to lose.
-- Diane Roffey, executive director, Suncoast Safety Council Inc., Clearwater
I sincerely hope the St. Petersburg City Council and the Traffic Department will accept the mandate of Shore Acres residents and refuse to reverse the defeat of the wasteful and invasive Shore Acres Traffic Calming Plan. This plan was soundly rejected by the voters two years ago, and again on Jan. 30. National studies have shown that the types of obstacles, choke points and various other "traffic calming" devices recommended in the defeated plan contribute to lessening the safety of our roads for drivers. I would like to suggest two actions that will contribute greatly toward achieving the traffic plan goals without the expense and inconvenience of all the unnecessary construction: (1) that all Shore Acres residents who voted (pro or con) observe the speed limit in Shore Acres, and (2) that parents prohibit their children from playing in the street.
I commend the traffic committee members, despite my total disagreement with their plan, for heightening our awareness of the importance of complying with posted speed limits; drivers in Shore Acres have slowed down. Additional police enforcement would help, and perhaps the funds that will not be expended on "calming devices" can be used for increased police presence. But we, the drivers, can go a long way toward calming our neighborhood traffic.
-- Anthony Skey, St. Petersburg
Re: Fines take residents and police by surprise, Jan. 24.
I want to congratulate the young man who wrote tickets for illegal parking. It has become an epidemic in St. Petersburg. One sees cars parked on the tree lines, on and across the sidewalks and on the aprons of driveways. Large moving vans back over curbs and sidewalks, breaking paving blocks and gas lines.
I hope more police officers will follow Officer Brandon Stout's fine example. For far too long, illegal parking has been overlooked, to the detriment of the city.
All drivers have, at one time or another, taken drivers' tests and they know what is legal and what is not. Notifying should not be necessary.
Please, please, start a citywide crackdown on these offenders! Help to restore some of the grace and beauty St. Petersburg once had.
-- Rodney Ness, St. Petersburg