Drunk Driving Increases over the Long Holiday Weekend


The University of Southern California (USC) is reporting that alcohol sales have surged since the COVID-19 pandemic began, raising concerns among USC experts and others that the bottoms-up binge could come with a social cost.


As family and friends break free from shelter in place orders and begin to plan their Memorial Day celebration, we encourage you to plan while you can and designate a sober ride. Impairment begins with the first drink. Texas law enforcement officers will be out in force during the Memorial Day weekend looking for impaired drivers. Failing to drive sober immensely increases the chance of being arrested for a DWI.


“We want all the citizens of Brown County to make it home safely this weekend. No one wins when you drink and drive or use impairing drugs and drive,” said Courtney Parrott, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agent for Brown County.


Not only could you become a memory in someone’s life, you could also cost someone their life, or cause serious, lifelong injuries. The financial burden of getting a DWI can run as high as $17,000 — not to mention the emotional costs associated with a DWI.


Plan ahead by using a non-drinking driver or a taxi/rideshare service to get home safely. If that is not an option, sleep at a friend’s house. Planning ahead can make this Memorial Day a memorable weekend — while not planning ahead might turn it into a nightmare.


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For information on free alcohol awareness programs available through the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Watch UR BAC program in College Station, visit: watchurbac.tamu.edu, or call: 979-862-1911.


Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Watch UR BAC program is funded by TxDOT and is provided at no charge to promote alcohol awareness, the dangers of impaired driving, and friends watching out for friends. Contact: Nancy Winn, nancy.winn@ag.tamu.edu, for booking information.


COVID-19 Tip – Be on the lookout for fake car seats


How to make sure you are buying a safe seat:


Unfortunately, fake car seats have been on the market for a while. With many families facing financial worries due to the recent COVID-19 health crisis, it may be even more tempting to save money by buying a product that is advertised as a car seat and priced at a very low cost.


When used correctly, car seats are extremely protective and can prevent injury and fatalities, but car seats that do not meet the U.S. safety standards will not protect a child in a crash. Parents and caregivers need to be aware of what to look for in order to avoid buying one of these dangerous imposters.


In the U.S., car seats are regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The manufacturers must give their car seats rigorous tests to show that they are meeting the NHTSA standards. In addition to crash tests, the safety standards include the fabric being used, which must not contain any harmful chemicals as well as pass a flammability test.


Tips to avoid buying a fake car seat:


•Buy in person. The best way to ensure that you are getting the car seat you intended is to go in-person. This may not be the most convenient option, but it will ensure that you are getting a seat that has been manufactured by a legitimate car seat manufacturer.


•If buying online, ask the following questions:


•Does the manufacturer have a website that you can find easily?


•Is the car seat on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ list? It lists only seats that meet federal motor vehicle safety standards and are approved for use in the U.S. Find the list at: https://healthychildren.org, and then type ‘Car seat list’ in the search box.


•Does the deal seem too good to be true? If so, there is a good chance that you are looking at a knockoff or fake seat.


•Is it being sold directly by a trusted retailer? With other online sites, such as Amazon and Walmart, make sure the seller is not a third-party and that the seats are being sold directly by the manufacturer or the site itself.


•Check the car seats you already own to make sure they are legitimate NHTSA approved car seats.


•Does it have a label stating, “The child restraint system conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards?”


•Is the brand stamped on the seat itself? Most knockoffs do not use the genuine brand name — some do not include any brand at all.


•Did it come with clear instructions?


•Is there a model number, customer-service number and manufacture date printed on it?


•Did it come with a registration card to send back to the manufacturer? All car seats sold in the U.S. are required to come with one so the manufacturer can contact you in case of a recall.


•Are there clear labels on the seat that indicate its use and correct installation?


It may also be tempting to save some money during these hard times by buying a used car seat. Sometimes a used or second-hand car seat may be safe to use. Check the list below to see if the seat is safe to use.


•Do you know the history of the seat? If not, the seat is not safe to use.


•Has it ever been in a crash?


•Does it have all its parts and is it in good condition?


•Has it expired? Check for an expiration date on the back of the seat. It is usually stamped into the plastic. You can also call the manufacturer to check for the expiration date.


•Is the seat on recall? If you have the manufacturer name, model name and number, as well as the date of manufacture, you can check for recalls at: www.nhtsa.gov/parents-and-caregivers. Then, go to Car Seats and Boosters Seats and then Recalls.


You do not have to buy the most expensive car seat to protect your child. There are many inexpensive models that meet all of the U.S. safety standards. The safest car seat is the one that is used correctly and fits the child and fits the vehicle properly.


Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Passenger Safety and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Community Health Educator, Courtney Parrott from Brown County, reminds parents be sure that your child is riding in the right seat, going in the right direction, harnessed properly and installed correctly by getting a free car seat inspection. To be safe during COVID-19, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Passenger Safety is offering virtual car seat inspections. To schedule an appointment for an inspection please call: 979-571-3925.