The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Booster seats now required for children eight and under

A new California law now requires children who are eight and under to be in booster seats while being driven, effective Jan. 1.

Previously, the law required children aged six or under to be in booster seats, but it changed when statistics on smart motorist wrote “that highway crashes are the number one cause of death among the nation’s youth.”

Statistics about the number of car accidents children have been injured in can be found at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

“Keeping them in booster seats increases their chance of surviving a crash by 45 percent,” James DeCarli, coordinator of Safe Kids Los Angeles County, department of public health said in an email interview. “Childhood hospitalizations and deaths from car accidents are one of the top reasons injury has occurred among 2.6 million children. LA county incidents involved children 16 and under. The number one reason for the injuries was riding improperly buckled.”

Some parents are unaware that the new law has passed.

“I have a 3-year-old and a 20 month old,” Shira Marmet, parent of two said. “I’m glad the government is taking steps to remind people of the regulations.”

The only exception to the law is if the 8-year-old is at least 4’9’’ or taller. In that case, the child must seat in the back seat and wear a safety belt, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Provisions for the law are stated in a SafetyBeltSafe form found online. Frequently asked questions are also outlined including a five point test to see if your child needs to be in a booster seat.

“Leg length increases with age, so by moving the age up to eight, they get a chance to become taller,” said Jennifer Romack, director of the Motor Development Laboratory and professor of kinesiology. “Total height has a higher percentage in leg length so it gives the legs a chance to catch up with the trunk.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides a fact sheet that outlines problems, risks, and injuries in child passenger safety.

“When a child is not in a booster seat when they should be, the child makes a decision to slouch down to be more comfortable,” Romack said.

Romack insists that parents should be informed about why a new law on booster seats changed.

“If the parents know why it’s beneficial to their child, it will make more parents concerned about safety,” Romack said. “The public has a right to know why it’s mandated and why injuries happen.”

Not abiding by the rules can cost you or the driver a $500 ticket.

“The consequences for not properly buckling up any child under 16 results in the parents or the driver getting a ticket,” Daniel Foster, certified child safety seat technician said in an email interview.

The second offense could cost more than $1,000, and a point could be added to the offender’s driving record.

Romack and Marmet both agreed that booster seats shouldn’t be generalized because some children are bigger than what the manufacturer’s label shows.

“The government should encourage businesses to make car seats to meet consumers needs,” Romack said.

Organizations, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, day cares, police and child  advocacy groups make efforts to educate parents about better child safety.

“I personally like the new law,” Marmet said.

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