AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — In 2022, the 17 counties in the Texas Department of Transportation’s Amarillo District saw 19 crashes with nine fatalities involving kids who were unrestrained.

Preventing injuries and deaths like these is the focus of TxDOT’s “Save Me With a Seat” campaign going on across the area this week.

“Let’s make our little Texan safer,” said Laviza Matthews, Traffic Safety Specialist with TxDOT Amarillo District. “Let’s do the right thing.”

TxDOT is aiming to make the road a little safer for area kids with complimentary car seat checks.

“We will check your car seat that you already have for free,” Matthews said. “And then if you if there’s something wrong with it if it’s expired, or if it’s if you don’t know the history of it or it’s been in a crash, then we have a free car seat to give you to make sure that that your little Texan is safe.”

The Save Me With a Seat Campaign is part of National Safety Week, and Matthews told KAMR Local 4 News that the goal is to educate area parents on how to properly use and secure car seats.

“That reduces the forward facing seat from moving four to six inches forward, and the child hitting the seat in front of them,” detailed Matthews. “That which could possibly be spinal cord injuries, neck injuries, head injuries. And that’s just it’s a very easy thing to fix.”

According to Texas law, children must be in a car seat until they’re eight years old or at least 4 feet 9 inches tall, and then it’s time for seat belts. But, Matthews said even then, there are things to consider.

“If they’re not that tall, and they’re not tall enough, they sit slumped. The seatbelt belt, and it’s uncomfortable, just like it would be for anybody. They’ll take it and they’ll put it behind them. So then you’ve got a kid who’s like maybe nine or 10-years-old, you’re in a car crash and they’re doubled over they fold over or they’re ejected because they don’t have that the lack of the shoulder seatbelt,” Matthews emphasized.

The amount of force that is needed for restraint in a crash is surprising.

“You take the weight of the child 50 pounds, and the speed that you’re going 50 miles an hour, and you multiply that,” noted Matthews. “So that’s 2500, right. So that’s how much restraint forces needed to keep that child in to the correct seating position. That’s a lot. So you’ve got to keep that kid restrained.”

And Matthews wanted every driver to remember that “every time every single person gets in your ride, everybody buckles up every time.”

For more information on the “Save Me With a Seat” campaign, click here.

For the latest Amarillo news and regional updates, check with and tune in to KAMR Local 4 News at 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 p.m. and Fox 14 News at 9:00 p.m. CST.