Ohio to require car booster seats for kids Oct. 7 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 29 September 2009 09:06
CINCINNATI (AP) — Children ages 4 through 7 with specified weight and height requirements must be in booster seats when riding in cars beginning next week, when a new state law goes into effect.

The National Transportation Safety Board urged Ohio and six other states last year to require booster seats for children through age 7. Since then, Ohio and three other states have enacted such legislation, leaving Arizona, Florida and South Dakota as the only states not requiring booster seats for children, the NTSB said.

Of the 47 states that require booster seats, only 26 require them through age 7, the NTSB said Monday.

The NTSB and several automobile safety groups say seat belts built for adults can cut across the throats and abdomens of small children and injure them in crashes. Injuries are less likely if the children are in booster seats, which prop them up so the seat belts fit properly, the advocates say.

A 2003 study by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia analyzed crashes involving 4,243 children and concluded that the odds of a child age 4 to 7 being injured were 59 percent lower when a booster seat was used instead of a seat belt only.

State Sen. Shannon Jones, who sponsored the booster seat bill while in the House, says the government is obligated to protect children.

Jones, R-Springboro, said that when her son grew out of his car safety seat, a type of seat with its own belting system designed for smaller children, she didn't know that simply buckling him into a seat belt wasn't good enough.

"As a parent, I was learning about this," she said. "And I thought, 'If this isn't safe for my child, why don't more parents know about the safest way to transport their children?'"

Ohio's law already requires approved car safety seats for children who are age 3 or younger or who weigh less than 40 pounds. The new law, going into effect Oct. 7, requires children who are 4, 5, 6 or 7 years old, weigh more than 40 pounds and stand less than 4-foot-9 to be in federally approved booster seats that work with seat belts.

State lawmakers opposing the law argued that it intruded on personal liberty, but a suburban Cincinnati mother says safety comes first.

"I have no problem with the government mandating that we do certain things to keep our children safe, because some people won't do them otherwise," says Keishia Barber, of West Chester Township, who already requires her 6-year-old and 4-year-old sons to ride in booster seats.

Susan Laurence, injury prevention coordinator at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, acknowledges getting some exasperated looks from parents when she demonstrates how to use the seats.

"You can tell from their faces: 'It's one more thing I'm going to have to do,'" Laurence said. "We want them to understand the booster seats are really a lifesaver and not an inconvenience."

Drivers violating the new law will receive warnings the first six months, with full enforcement beginning April 7, 2010. Police can write a citation only after stopping a driver for another reason. A violator can be fined $25 to $75 for a first offense.

The law will apply to drivers from other states while they are in Ohio, authorities said.

Prices for booster seats begin at about $15.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 September 2009 09:07

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