Tauranga police targeting faulty children's car seats say they got more than they bargained for while running a checkpoint at Welcome Bay this week.
A motorist was stopped at a checkpoint on Monday for not wearing a seatbelt. Police allege the car was stolen and the driver was carrying methamphetamine.
The Kiddyclick checkpoint was being held on Monday, yesterday and today to help educate people about the importance of children being appropriately restrained in car seats. The annual operation has been running for 17 years.
Police found most children's car seats and restraints were not properly installed.
Sergeant Wayne Hunter said of the 41 car and booster seats which had been checked so far, 31 had serious faults that made the seat "severely ineffective" in preventing injury to a child in a crash.
"The biggest fault was having car seats in the front seat, which is not allowed unless all other seats in a vehicle are taken by other children," he said.
"This is due to air bags which can cause serious injury to a child who is in the front seat. The other faults were wrong type of seat for the child's age and straps not secured correctly."
In one vehicle, police found a 6-year-old with no restraint at all. Mr Hunter said she was gifted a booster seat from Plunket.
Mr Hunter said people texting while driving were also a problem. He encountered three doing so while travelling through the checkpoint yesterday.
"We are standing here in uniform and high-vis and they are still doing it. It's not a covert operation.
"We aren't trying to catch people. We are trying to educate them. They are obviously not paying attention.
"It just goes to show that if the car in front of them stopped, they would be rear-ended."
Mr Hunter said so far most children had been wearing seatbelts or were restrained in car seats, but there had been many whose seats were not properly installed.
Plunket injury prevention and education co-ordinator Sandy Waugh said Kiddyclick was a joint initiative between Plunket, the police, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Tauranga City Council.
Ms Waugh said the aim of the operation was to educate the local community about child safety in cars. Seatbelts and car seats are checked for correct use and installation. Advice and assistance is provided to families where no restraints are found.
■ A man will appear in the Tauranga District Court on Friday on charges of unlawfully taking a vehicle, receiving stolen goods and possession of methamphetamine.