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Concerns raised over car seats for children
Inuvik RCMP get on board with educational program to curb number of children riding in vehicles without being buckled in

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 31, 2012

INUVIK
A new group is forming in Inuvik to raise awareness around the issue of elder abuse and the treatment of elders around the community.

NNSL photo/graphic

Many children in Inuvik are not properly strapped in while driving around the community, says a concerned mother. With summer almost here and many road trips on the horizon 'enough is enough.' This young girl found the car seat so comfortable she fell asleep. - Daron Letts/NNSL photo

"I'm just very concerned about the lack of concern on parents behalf, and bylaw, and maybe even our police here, that they don't seem to be looking out for kids in vehicles," said Tammy Matthews. "There are kids standing up on the front seat, there's kids who aren't being belted in, and nobody really seems to care about it.

"And then you have people who are actually driving and there is a passenger in the front seat with a baby on their lap."

Matthews said that she has seen unbuckled children in cars around Inuvik for years, but recently saw an incident where she witnessed law enforcement pass a car at a stop sign that had a child standing in the front seat.

"It's really in your face, and nobody seems to care about these kids," said Matthews. "You just throw them in your car. There's no belt, there's no car seat, there's nothing.

"It's getting to the point now where enough is enough," she said. "There is way too much of this going on out there, and I'm really surprised that somebody else hasn't brought it up before now."

Cpl. Mark Phillips of the Inuvik RCMP agreed that the issue of children in cars without being properly strapped in is a concern in the community.

"It's an issue everywhere, absolutely," he said. "There could be different reasons for it."

The use of car seats is mandatory in the NWT under the territory's Motor Vehicles Act. Under this act, drivers who fail to secure a child properly can be given a $230 fine and two demerit points.

Phillips could not confirm how many tickets had been handed out for the offence recently, but said that he did not recall any of these violations going across his desk in the last several months.

"I don't know if it's something that's regularly enforced or not," he said.

Matthews said she would like to see more education offered within the community on the importance of having children in car seats.

"I really think that there has to be more resources, there's got to be more education on this," she said.

Phillips also agreed that an educational program would be the best way to address the issue within the community. In fact, since the issue was raised about a week ago, the Inuvik RCMP have a plan in the works for an awareness program on the issue that could be rolled out as early as this fall.

This is an especially important time of year to get the word out, said Matthews, with more families travelling on the highway as the weather warms up.

"I do sympathize that it's a very small community, but I could leave here today with my little girl not buckled and someone could crash into me," said Matthews. "We don't have to be in a large city for this to happen."

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