Among other laws being introduced in 2012, one requiring booster seats for children under the age of 8 has hit California and 30 other states. Proponents of Senate Bill 949 say it will go a long way toward reducing the rate of car accident injuries among school-aged children.
Before this year, the safety seats were required for children up to age 6 or those who weighed less than 60 pounds. The new law applies to children up to 7 years old, or any child under 4 feet 9 inches tall. Children must also ride in a back seat. The only exceptions are for pickup trucks with no rear seats, or if all the rear seats are occupied by children under age 7. Medical issues and vehicles in which a child restraint can't be installed are other possible exceptions.
Seat belts were designed to fit adults, say child safety advocates. If a vehicle is involved in an accident, the impact could seriously injure a child who is restrained at the abdomen and not the hips, where a lap belt is supposed to cross a person's body. A booster seat lifts the child up so the seat belt fits properly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, children are 45 percent less likely to be injured in a crash if they're using a booster seat instead of just a seat belt.
The new law, which is expected to affect about 1 million children in California, could result in a significant decrease in child injuries and deaths. Although children may not always like riding in the safety seats and parents might believe they are safe enough drivers to protect their children from accidents, you're only in control of your own vehicle. Others could crash into you, putting you and your family at risk. The other driver might be held liable for injuries, but that's no reason to risk a hefty fine or harm to your child.
Source: Corning Observer, "New laws for new year," Julie R. Johnson, Dec. 27, 2011
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