All it takes is a few seconds, and a child's life can change forever. It's why buckling up right is so critical.
Bobbisue Schlender is a mother of three, and says she doesn't mess around when it comes to her children's safety.
"It's my responsibility, it's my job as a parent. They don't know how to buckle themselves yet, so it's our job to ensure their safety," said Schlender.
You can imagine her surprise when she heard the numbers: each year hundreds of local drivers are putting their kids in danger by not buckling-in their kids correctly. In 2011, state troopers contacted more than 700 people for child restraint violations. And last year, that number was up to over 800 violations.
While numbers may seem high, troopers say fluctuation year-to-year is typical. They tell Action News the rise could be due to increased patrols, or people not keeping up with new child-seat laws. It's things like putting your 13-year-old in the front seat, or facing your infant forward that could get you a ticket.
"We're protecting the most vulnerable out there. They don't have picking and choosing for themselves," said Washington State Patrol Trooper Daniel Mosqueda.
Troopers say they've seen severe cases. A six-month-old buckled in a car seat, but placed on the car floor, unsecured.
Training parents on passenger safety is Jenna Boogerd's specialty.
She advises parents to keep themselves informed and read their car manual for specifics.
"We've even seen a parent use an infant seat that's forward-facing. We've seen a lot of things, unfortunately," said Child Passenger Safety Technician Jenna Boogerd.
It's an ongoing effort to keep our most precious cargo safe.
If you'd like to receive child safety training just call WSP or Swanky Babies if you live in the Tri-Cities to set up a free appointment. If you live in Yakima, contact YPD or Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.