Car Dealership Reaches Child Safety Seat Inspection Milepost

Car Dealership Reaches Child Safety Seat Inspection Milepost

Free checks done in conjunction with safety groups, police and fire-rescue crews

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Fitzgerald Auto certified technician Susan Barton explains how to secure a child in a car seat to Meredith Tibbetts, as Officer Katie Beard looks on.

staff photo

A Montgomery County car dealership celebrated its 50,000th child safety seat inspection on Thursday.

The Fitzgerald Auto Mall in Rockville has done complimentary safety checks since 1999. The dealership has partnered with county law enforcement, fire and rescue services and the office of consumer protection, among others.

Fitzgerald Auto also works with the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The dealership was founded by Jack Fitzgerald in North Bethesda in 1966, and it has since expanded to 12 locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida, including three in the county.

Technicians at the inspections walk parents through the process of installing the seats into their cars, properly securing their children in them and safely adjusting the devices as their children grow.

“Most parents think they’re installing them right, but three out of four car seats aren’t correctly installed or used,” NTSB member Jennifer Homendy said. “That’s why we need trained and certified experts like Jack and his team.”

The Rockville dealership hosts inspections on a monthly basis, and spent around $33,000 on event-related expenses last year, Smith said. Since employees are on the clock under the inspection tents, other staff members must step up and fill their roles in the dealership, adding a cost to the expenses associated with the event.

Smith said it’s hard to quantify what benefits they receive from the inspection event.

Inspections are available by appointment at the Fitzgerald Auto locations in Gaithersburg, Wheaton and Annapolis, as well as the Rockville dealership. Fitzgerald Auto does not give away car seats, only inspects them.

Children younger than 8 years old and shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches, are required by state law to ride in an approved safety seat.

“This is about life and death,” County Council member Andrew Friedson said. “We know it’s 71% less likely that there be a fatality if you’re in a safe car seat.”

The statistic cited by Friedson refers to infant fatalities, derived from research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Safe car seats reduce fatality risks by 54% for toddlers, according to the NHTSA.

Charlie Wright can be reached at charlie.wright@bethesdamagazine.com

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