Raising age for booster seats would save lives, experts say

LAWMAKERS AMEND VEHICLE SAFETY

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Sara Simmons straps her youngest daughter Anabelle, 2, into a car safety seat whenever she drives the family's van. Her middle daughter, Juliana, 6, doesn't use one, though. She sits in a booster seat only occasionally.

Sara Simmons loads her daughters Anabelle, 2, Samantha (center), 8, and Juliana, 6, into the family van. The Georgia Legislature has passed bills that would raise the age that children can stop using car seats or boosters from 6 to 8.   Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Sara Simmons loads her daughters Anabelle, 2, Samantha (center), 8, and Juliana, 6, into the family van. The Georgia Legislature has passed bills that would raise the age that children can stop using car seats or boosters from 6 to 8.

"She's over 50 pounds," said Simmons, a Martinez resident. "But, if they've done studies and found she needs it, I would definitely use one. Whatever would keep her safe."

Last week, the Georgia Senate voted to raise the age for when children can stop using car safety seats or boosters -- from 6 years old to 8.

That means Juliana and all other 6- and 7-year-olds would have to move into booster seats when they outgrew their car seats. A companion bill passed in the House, so the measure is close to becoming law.

Local car seat technician and instructor Rene Hopkins said the new rule would save lives.

"A lot of parents, not knowing what to ask about car seats, will look to the law for what to do," said Hopkins, the director of Safe Kids East Central, led by the Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center.

Under current law, children must use child car seats until they turn 6 unless they weigh 40 pounds or more.

That has brought automobile injuries down for children 5 and younger, Hopkins said. Children in the 6- to 10-year-old range have not seen an improvement at all, however.

"We're seeing kids with spinal injuries and chest crush injuries," she said.

Kids need to be in a car seat or booster seat until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall, the size of a small adult, Hopkins said.

That's because a seat belt's shoulder strap doesn't fit a smaller person properly, said Nate Moorman, an injury control coordinator for the Richmond County Health Department.

"The lap belt should lie across the pelvis, not the stomach. The shoulder strap should go across the clavicle, so the belt holds onto the bone in case of a crash," Moorman said.

The Senate bill would exempt children 7 and younger who have grown taller than 4-foot-9.

It would also exempt children weighing 40 pounds or more in cases when the child must sit in a seat that has a lap belt, but not a shoulder strap. That's because some car seats are rated to hold a child only as heavy as 40 pounds, and a booster seat is not safe when only a lap belt is used, Hopkins said.

"A booster seat elevates the child's center of gravity. Without a shoulder strap it would make the head and chest thrust forward even more," she said.

WHICH CAR SEAT keeps your child safe? Get National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommendations at: www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS

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onlysane1left
216
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onlysane1left 03/09/11 - 09:02 am
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More wasteful state Senate

More wasteful state Senate time spent on menial items. Thanks for doing what little you can for us!

rocketserve
280
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rocketserve 03/09/11 - 10:09 am
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Just another way of the
Unpublished

Just another way of the government trying to be babysitter for everyone and tell people how to raise their kids. There must be a lobbyist for the booster seat industry in the GA legislature somewhere.

HeatherGermany
0
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HeatherGermany 03/09/11 - 10:09 am
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The children in the picture

The children in the picture are exceptionally cute.

Rene
0
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Rene 03/09/11 - 11:34 am
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I am so glad that GA is

I am so glad that GA is providing guidance to families on safe vehicle transportation. Nearly half of all the children who die in GA each year die due to vehicle crash injuries. That ammounts to over well 200 children each year just in GA and that does not include those who are seriously injured which is another 10 thousand kids. If your not thinking of the kids then just think of the money that will be saved in health care costs.

502.5
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502.5 03/09/11 - 11:44 am
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This is great news! I have a

This is great news! I have a very petite niece and have worried that she needs to stay in her seat until she is taller and heavier. I am glad that someone is out there trying to help save the lives of kids. I see too many people out there who ride around without using child safety seats. I just keep thinking, "Don't these parents love their children?" It cost me about $18 for a booster seat - less than two lunches out. My kids are worth it - and I had to buy two!!

Rosemary11
10
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Rosemary11 03/09/11 - 12:45 pm
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I am outraged that people

I am outraged that people believe the "government is trying to be a babysitter". Maybe the reason they need to be one is to insure ignorant people learn how to keep their children safe. “Motor vehicle crashes
are the leading cause of death for children from 3 to 14 years old.” THE LEADING CAUSE! This is directly from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If there is way to keep your children safer wouldn't you want to know about it?

buddydawg
0
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buddydawg 03/09/11 - 02:24 pm
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502.5 if you are worried

502.5 if you are worried wheteher or not your niece needs a booster seat, why don't you just buy one and be on the safe side. Why wait for the government to MAKE you do it? What has happened to common sense and personal responsibility? I'll tell you where it went... We let the government take it from us or better yet, we let them have it because we were to busy worrying about the Charlie Sheens of the world. How about I make the decisions for my 5 year old when it comes to safety, education and anything else that comes down the line.

mable8
2
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mable8 03/09/11 - 04:35 pm
0
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It's too bad that the

It's too bad that the "experts" don't tell the other side of the story--how seat belts maim and kill adults as well as children. A crushed chest from the seat belt is not a pretty way to die, believe me, I know---that's what killed my husband. Seat belts are not as good a safety feature that it's chalked up to be.

IMRIGHTYOUREWRONG
76
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IMRIGHTYOUREWRONG 03/09/11 - 06:54 pm
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Rather than raise the age in

Rather than raise the age in which car or booster seats are required, why don’t we focus on the greater issue: why does that state issue licenses to so many individuals that are clearly unqualified to operate a vehicle? A motor vehicle is undoubtedly one of the most complex machines a human being can operate. Let’s just raise the standard for obtaining a license. By my estimates, this would reduce the legal drivers on the roads by upwards of 25%. As a result, some of the least qualified drivers (and thus most likely to cause a wreck) would be removed from the equation and accidents (including those that injure the little ones) will be reduced.

IMRIGHTYOUREWRONG
76
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IMRIGHTYOUREWRONG 03/09/11 - 07:01 pm
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And Mable, while I am sorry

And Mable, while I am sorry for your loss, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that suggests seat belts are far more likely to save lives than to cause deaths. This is not to say they are perfect, but countless studies and statistics suggest that they to work.

x58dav8r
112
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x58dav8r 03/09/11 - 11:20 pm
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Most of this discussion isn't

Most of this discussion isn't the point. What gives the government at any level the right (responsibility) to make rules that you can be fined for not following when it comes to making decisions about how you raise your children? Government needs to get out of my decision making process and stay out. I will decide what is and is not safe for my kids. Period.

seenitB4
90979
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seenitB4 03/10/11 - 07:41 am
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What is best for a young

What is best for a young child...booster seat or seat belt...dunno----but I can see our pets in a belt or seat or fined $$.....this law will probably come up in the next few years.....states need that money.

corgimom
34211
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corgimom 03/10/11 - 03:43 pm
0
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Again- does the state plan to

Again- does the state plan to equip patrol cars with a scale and a tape measure?

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