The Texas Department of State Health Services is offering car safety seats through the WRC Pregnancy Centers of Ellis County. The centers will distribute 125 seats during the next 12 months.

To participate in the Safe Riders Program and receive a complimentary car seat or booster seat, a parent must attend a one-hour training session. The training includes a video provided by the state on child vehicle safety, a live demonstration showing the proper use of a car safety seat and registering the safety seat for ownership and any possible product recalls.

Attending an upcoming session is as easy as calling the nearest WRC Pregnancy Center. However, a reservation is required since space is limited.

The Waxahachie Center is at 1204 Ferris Ave., Suite E, and can be reached by calling (972) 938-7900. In Ennis, call (972) 878-0784 to attend the center, which is located at 2703 N. Kaufman, Suite D.

Texas law states that all children younger than 5 years of age and less than 36 inches tall are required to be in a child safety seat system. The law classifies safety seat infractions as moving violations for the first time.

Texas initiated the Safe Riders Program to protect children from serious injury or death while being transported in a motor vehicle. The most recent statistics indicate 164 children younger than the age of 14 were killed in vehicle crashes in Texas during 2005. Nationally, more than 50 percent of children who die in motor vehicle crashes are unrestrained. It is estimated 70 percent of all car seats in use are not properly fastened.

“This is the first year to participate in the Safe Riders Program,” executive director Donna Young said. “We are excited about serving children in our community in this way. This program is certainly in keeping with our mission to protect the lives of our children.”

WRC Pregnancy Center of Ellis County (formerly Women’s Resource Center) is a faith-based nonprofit organization. This life-affirming ministry serves women and teens confronted with unplanned pregnancies and those parenting children younger than age 2.