FAQs

Child Passenger Safety
Where can I get a car seat or booster seat?

Through the New Mexico Child Safety Seat Distribution Program, children in low-income families who meet program guidelines may qualify to receive a reduced-cost car seat or booster seat.  If your child already has a car seat, but you are concerned it may be unsafe for any reason, please make an appointment at the nearest fitting station or attend a local car seat clinic.  Please contact us at (505) 856-6143 for more information on car seat distribution.

I thought the middle seat was the safest for my child, but his/her booster seat says I have to use a lap and shoulder belt. Where should I put him/her?

You must use a lap and shoulder belt with all booster seats that are not made to be secured to the vehicle. If you do not have shoulder belts in the center position of the back seat, you should place your child in one of the rear outboard (side) positions which does have a shoulder belt. Rear-seat outboard shoulder belt systems can be retrofitted into many pre-1990 vehicles.

Can someone check my child’s safety seat to make sure it’s safe?

Safer would be happy to inspect your child’s seat and show you the proper way to install and use the seat. There are currently Child Safety Seat Fitting Stations in operation statewide, or you can attend a car seat clinic in your area. Some locations require appointments. Please call (505) 856-6143 for more information.

Do I have to have booster seats for all of my children’s friends when I take them somewhere?

Yes. The law does not allow for exceptions due to transporting other people’s children. All children must be properly restrained on every ride.

My child is embarrassed to ride in a booster seat – her friends call her a baby. What can I do?

Your child will be much safer and more comfortable in a booster seat if the adult seat belt does not fit her properly without a booster seat. If your child is riding in a booster seat, chances are her friends should also be riding in one. Take comfort in knowing you are doing your best to protect her from the most common cause of death and serious injury in children.

My infant is not yet one year old, but his feet are touching the seat back and I’m afraid he’s not comfortable. Can I turn him around to face forward?

No. You should leave your child in the rear-facing position as long as possible, or  until he has reached the maximim height or weight limitations of the car seat. There is no documented crash data or laboratory evidence to support turning a child around to the forward-facing position because his feet touch the seat back or because his legs must be bent. The only physical limit (other than the car seat manufacturer’s height and weight restrictions) on rear-facing use is when the child’s head approaches the top of the restraint shell. At this point, he should be moved to a rear-facing convertible seat. It is much more important to protect the child from permanent spinal cord injuries than to worry about the position of the feet or legs.

I have several children of different ages. Where should they sit in the car?

Every situation is different. You must consider the ages and sizes of your children as well as the year and model of your vehicle. Safer recommends that you make an appointment at one of our Fitting Stations or attend a car seat clinic. At one of these events, a certified technician can help you determine the best configuration for your children in your vehicle.

Do you have any brochures or flyers I can hand out at our upcoming safety fair?

Yes.  Safer manages an Injury Prevention Resource Center (IPRC) from which you can order educational and promotional items on a variety of safety topics.  All materials are provided to the citizens of New Mexico at no charge through funding from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, Traffic Safety Bureau.  Please use the link to access the IPRC Order Form and allow two weeks for processing of your order.

Can Safer host a car seat inspection clinic for our organization?

Car seat clinics require substantial planning and resources, including volunteer labor, replacement car seats, and an appropriate venue or location.  Safer is funded to conduct a limited number of car seat clinics throughout the State each year.  We invite you to submit an Event Request Form at least three weeks prior to the requested date.  If you have any further questions, please contact Safer at (800) 231-6145.

How do I know if my child needs to be riding in a booster seat?

The law in New Mexico states that all children 5 and 6 years old who have outgrown their car seats have to ride in a booster seat, regardless of how much they weigh. Children under 60 pounds also must ride in a booster seat, regardless of how old they are. Also, children ages 7 through 12 must ride in a booster seat until the adult seat belt fits them properly. How do you know if the adult seat belt fits your child properly? If your child is NOT riding in a booster seat, try this 5-step test:

  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  3. Is the lap belt below the tummy, touching the thighs?
  4. Is the shoulder belt centered on the shoulder and chest?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the entire trip? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to ride more safely in the car. Riding in a booster seat is more comfortable, too!
Will I get a ticket if…?

Safer is not a law enforcement agency and we cannot speak for law enforcement agencies.  If you do not follow the law, there is a chance you will be cited.  New Mexico’s seat belt and child restraint laws are in effect for your safety and the safety of your children.  Unfortunately, a citation is not the worst possible consequence for not buckling up.

There are so many different car seats – how do I know which one to use for my child?

There are several types of child safety seats available today. Our Car Seat Basics page has a brief description of the different seats. If you would like a certified technician to help you select the proper type of seat for your child, please make an appointment at one of our Fitting Stations or attend a car seat clinic.

Which brand of child safety seat should I purchase for my child?

Safer does not recommend or condemn specific models of child safety seats. The best seat for your child is one that fits the child, fits your vehicle, and is used consistently and correctly. Make sure the seat you purchase has a certification label stating “Meets or exceeds all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.” Also, you should only use a child safety seat with a known history, with all parts intact and functional, and with an owner’s instruction manual. Some seats have an expiration date stamped on the back or bottom of the seat. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has issued Ease-of-Use Ratings on most child safety seats available today. A child safety seat that is easier to install and use is more likely to be used consistently and properly. For a complete list of the 2005 ratings, please visit here.

I work at a hospital. How do we become a car seat distribution site?

More than 40 hospitals, health clinics, and family resource centers across the State are now part of the New Mexico Child Safety Seat Distribution Program (NMCSSDP). This program, with funding from the NMDOT, TSD, provides child safety seats at a reduced cost to low-income families. Each NMCSSDP site sets their own distribution guidelines, and determines fees and requirements. For more information on becoming a distribution site please us at 505-856-6143.

How do I become a certified car seat technician?

Safer hosts several NHTSA Standardized Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technical Training courses throughout the State each year. Certified technicians are able to inspect and install child safety seats and educate parents and caregivers on CPS issues. The course is four full days and concludes with a hands-on car seat clinic where the technicians are able to test their new skills. For more information on course dates and locations, please contact us at (505) 856-6143 or 800-231-6145.

When is the next car seat clinic or inspection event in my area?

If you live in or near Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Alamogordo, Artesia, Rio Rancho, Las Cruces, Farmington, or Raton, we encourage you to attend the Fitting Station in your area. Some Fitting Stations accept appointments, which will limit your waiting time. If you live outside these areas, please check the calendar of upcoming events. This calendar is updated regularly.

 How do I know if my child’s car seat has been recalled?

If you mailed in the registration card with your current address when you purchased your safety seat, the seat manufacturer will notify you by mail of any recalls associated with your particular seat. If you did not register your seat, or have relocated, you can visit the web site for the manufacturer of your specific seat. Look for a “Recall” page within that web site. You will need to have the model number and date of manufacture from the seat itself. This information is located on the hard plastic portion of the seat, usually on the back or bottom of the seat. See a list of Manufacturers websites here.

There are also several comprehensive recall lists compiled by reputable agencies.

If you still have questions, please call the manufacturer of your child’s safety seat, or call Safer 1-800-231-6145 and speak with a certified CPS technician.

Why should my child ride in the back seat?

Studies have indicated that children are 37% less likely to be fatally injured in a crash if riding in the rear seat. The rear seat is farther from the impact of a frontal collision (the most common type of crash). Placing your children in the rear seat also removes them from the path of the front airbags. Airbags can be deadly for children, and should be avoided whenever possible. Rear-facing infants should NEVER be placed in front of an airbag.

Can I place my child next to a side airbag?

Check your car seat instruction manual and your vehicle owner’s manual.  Some brands of car seats specifically prohibit installation next to an airbag.  Side impact air bags (SABs) are inflatable devices that are designed to help protect an adult’s head and/or chest in the event of a serious crash involving the side of your vehicle. There are three main types of SABs: chest (or torso) SABs, head SABs and head/chest combination (or “combo”) SABs.

  • Chest (or torso) SABs are mounted in the side of the seat or in the door and are designed to help protect an adult’s chest in a serious side-impact crash.
  • Head SABs are usually mounted in the roof rail above the side windows and are designed to help protect an adult’s head in a side-impact crash. There are two types of head SABs: curtain SABs and tubular SABs. Typically, curtain SABs help protect both front and rear occupants in a side-impact crash; some may also provide protection from ejection if your car rolls over after being struck on the side.
  • Head/chest combination (“combo”) SABs are usually mounted in the side of the seat and are typically larger than chest (or torso) SABs. Combo SABs are designed to help protect both the head and chest of an adult.
Consult your owner’s manual or vehicle manufacturer for specific information on your vehicle’s side air bag system. Prior to the development of the recommended TWG (see http://www.safercar.gov/ for more information) performance guidelines for SABs, many chest (torso) and head/chest combination (combo) SABs showed a potential for serious or fatal injury to children seated very close to the deployment of the bag. However, very few cars sold in the U.S. have these types of SABs in the rear seating positions. The first head SABs were introduced in model year 1998, but did not become widely available until recently. NHTSA has not seen any indication that current roof-mounted head SABs pose a risk to children. Many roof-mounted SABs now extend rearward to include the second and even the third row seating positions. Vehicles that meet the voluntary TWG guidelines will have an “M” for Meets requirement in the column labeled “SAB Out of Position Testing” in the Available Features chart of each vehicle’s page at www.safercar.gov. If your vehicle does not have an “M,” you should check your owner’s manual or contact the vehicle manufacturer to find out whether your car’s SABs are safe for children.
Seat Belts
What is the law in New Mexico regarding seat belt use?

New Mexico Safety Belt Use Act: 66-7-372 (Effective July 15, 2001) Each occupant of a motor vehicle, having a gross vehicle weight of ten thousand pounds or less and manufactured with safety belts, shall have a safety belt properly fastened about his/her body at all times when the vehicle is in motion on any street or highway. The fine for violating the New Mexico Safety Belt Use Act is $25.00, two points on the offender’s driver’s license, and additional fees, depending on jurisdiction.

For more information, please visit this website.

Why don’t school buses have seat belts?

School bus transportation is one of the safest forms of transportation in the United States. School bus crash data show that a Federal requirement for belts on buses would provide little, if any, added protection in a crash. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) have come to the same conclusion. NTSB concluded in a 1987 study of school bus crashes that most fatalities and injuries were due to occupant seating positions being in direct line with the crash forces. NTSB stated that seat belts would not have prevented most of the serious injuries and fatalities occurring in school bus crashes.

For more information, please visit this website.

DWI
What is a sobriety checkpoint?

A sobriety checkpoint is a procedure in which law enforcement restrict traffic flow in a designated, specific location so they can check drivers for signs of impairment. If officers detect any type of incapacitation based on their observations, they can perform additional testing such as field sobriety tests or breath analysis tests. Sometimes officers will also check documents such as driver licenses, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance at sobriety checkpoints.
Are sobriety checkpoints legal in New Mexico?
Yes. The US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints in 1990. When conducted under a strict set of policies and procedures, sobriety checkpoints do not constitute illegal search and seizure in New Mexico. The court agrees that the interest in reducing alcohol-impaired driving is sufficient to justify the brief intrusion of a properly conducted sobriety checkpoint.

What is a saturation patrol?

A saturation patrol is a procedure in which a number of law enforcement patrol units are dedicated to a limited area for the purpose of DWI detection and apprehension. Saturation patrols are concentrated enforcement efforts that target impaired drivers by observing moving violations such as reckless driving, speeding, aggressive driving, and others. Well-publicized saturation patrols educate the general driving public that breaking traffic laws is a serious problem and that violators will be punished.

What is a Superblitz and when are they?

A Superblitz is a period of enhanced law enforcement activity, usually centered on a holiday or other celebration when motorists need to be reminded to buckle up and to not drink and drive.

What is the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level in New Mexico?
For drivers under age 21, the maximum BAC level at which a driver license is revoked is .02%. For drivers 21 and over, the BAC level must be lower than .08%. For drivers operating under a commercial driver license, the limit is .04%.

What is ignition interlock?

An ignition interlock is a sophisticated system that tests for alcohol on a driver’s breath. It is a device that requires a vehicle operator to blow into a small handheld alcohol sensor unit that is attached to a vehicle’s dashboard. The car cannot be started if a BAC is above a preset level (usually .02 to .04 BAC). Alcohol safety interlocks that meet the standards issued by NHTSA not only require a test to start the engine, but also require a test every few minutes while driving. Called the “rolling or running retest,” it prevents a friend from starting the car and then allowing an impaired driver to take over the wheel. With modern safeguards, alcohol safety interlocks are extremely difficult to circumvent when properly installed and monitored every 30 to 60 days. When used by the courts or state motor vehicle departments in conjunction with a monitoring, reporting, and support program, the ignition interlock system provides DWI offenders with an alternative to full license suspension. Its use has spread rapidly across the country and many states have enacted legislation providing for its integration into the DWI adjudication and sentencing process.

Where can my agency obtain the Sobriety Checkpoint Training course?

Safer has extensive experience in coordinating various training programs for law enforcement. Safer provides law enforcement personnel with accurate, up-to-date information on the legal and safety issues involved in conducting sobriety checkpoints though the Sobriety Checkpoint Training course presented at Safer’s annual Law Enforcement Coordinators’ Symposium (LECS). This course is accredited by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Training Center for continuing education units (CEU’s). For details regarding this course, you may contact your law enforcement liaison or Safer.

What will happen to me if I am arrested for DWI in New Mexico?

Under Governor Bill Richardson, the New Mexico Legislature passed several new, tougher DWI laws in 2005. The new laws address ignition interlock, vehicle seizure, and other topics. For the most current penalties information, please use the link below.

Penalties – PDF

Location

Administrative Office
9400 Holly Avenue NE, Suite 201
Albuquerque, NM 87122

Injury Prevention Resource Center
3220 Richards Lane, Suite A
Santa Fe, NM 87505

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