A Colorado woman was cited for a seat belt violation when the police officer who pulled her over during a routine traffic stop discovered she had removed her child from a car seat to make room for a gas can.
The unidentified female driver was stopped after making an improper turn in Aurora, Colo., on May 30. The woman and her two children—a 14-year-old and the toddler—were not wearing seat belts. But a photo of the back seat taken by the officer for the Aurora Police Department's "Click It or Ticket" campaign shows the gas can was secured with the seat belt meant for the young child.
"This could be one of the extreme incidents we've ever seen," Aurora Police spokesman Frank Fania told the Denver Post.
On Tuesday, the Colorado Department of Transportation posted the photo to its Facebook wall, encouraging users to "share it to remind everyone that life is precious, so please be responsible and make sure children are properly restrained in the appropriate child safety seat."
Many Facebook users thought the photo was staged.
"Anyone dumb or lazy enough to not put kid in car seat wouldn't take time to do it with their gas can," Kristin Sliger wrote. "Probably just a statement about how expensive gas is."
Most, though, were outraged.
"This is ridiculous," Ray Phillips wrote. "Having the child poorly restrained is one thing, but think about the gas fumes!"
"One slam on the brakes and the gas would be all over the car and the kid thru the front window," Jennae Warrick Hunter wrote. "This is so wrong!"
Nancy Chavez added: "At least the kid is IN the car and not on the ROOF!"