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      Buckle buddies hotline set up to keep kids safe

      COLUMBIA (WACH)--Palmetto Health Children's Hospital and South Carolina Department of Public Safety are teaming up to help children stay safe in South Carolina.

      "Last year we lost 26 children and a thousand children also that was injured and that's unacceptable," says Colonel Kenny Lancaster.

      The State Highway Patrol is launching Buckle Buddies, a child passenger safety hotline.

      "This program here is an education piece that lets adults understand that there's people out there watching them," says Lancaster.

      The hotline allows motorists to report vehicles that have unrestrained child passengers.

      Lancaster says, "They're one they're two they're three years old, they have no responsibility, they don't understand what they should be doing, so you as adults have to take that responsibility and save their lives."

      Once reported the vehicle owner will receive a letter in the mail and educational materials from the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

      DHEC officials say motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for children over one year of age and when properly installed, child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers.

      Doctors at Palmetto Health say they know first hand how important it is to take a few extra seconds to make sure your child is safe.

      "Last year 26 children died in car accidents of those 19 were unrestrained we can make a big difference just by, if we get half of those kids next year restrained, says Doctor Caughman Taylor with Palmetto Children's Hospital. "It saves lives for your child to be in a car seat, you don't want to come here, you don't want to be in our hospital, and the way to do that is to make sure your child is restrained."