New booster seat law: Kids under 8 need them



Five steps to know if your child is ready for a seat belt:

• The child can sit all the way back in the vehicle’s seat.

•  The child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat.

•  The belt crosses the shoulder between the neck and arm.

•  The lap belt is low and touching the thighs.

•  The child can stay seated like this for an entire trip.

Effective today, children younger than 8, regardless of height and weight, are required by law to be properly protected in a child safety seat while traveling in a vehicle.

The previous law required only children up to 5 years old be in booster seats.

“The state has taken a big step forward in protecting kids from serious crash injuries that result from wearing seat belts that were simply not designed to protect small bodies,” said Col. James Wolfinbarger of the Colorado State Patrol.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, children ages 4 to 7 who use boosters seats are 45 percent less likely to be injured in a crash compared with children in a seat belt.

The minimum requirements of the law that takes effect today are:

Babies younger than 1 year old and less than 20 pounds must ride in a rear-facing car seat and only in the back seat of a vehicle.

Once babies turn 1 and weigh at least 20 pounds, they can use a front-facing seat. (However, safety experts recommend parents use rear-facing seats through the upper end of the weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer.)

Children ages 4 to 7 must continue to be protected in a child safety restraint. (Safety experts said that means a booster seat for most in this age group. However, children should stay in a front-facing car seat longer if the upper weight limit of the seat allows it. Seats typically can hold between 40 to 50 pounds.)

When a child turns 8, a seat belt can be used. (However, children should say in a booster seat until they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches, safety experts said.)

The minimum fine per violation is $82. But the State Patrol is using a one-year education period to help parents and other guardians learn more about the new booster seat law.

To further educate people about the new law, fit stations will be held throughout the state in the months ahead.

Locally, fit stations will be 8:30 a.m. to noon, Aug. 13, at the Mesa County Health Dept., 530 29 1/2 Road, and 10 a.m. to noon, Aug. 14, at Hellman Chevrolet in Delta, 900 Main St.

Erin Rohr, certified car seat technician with the Mesa County Health Department, said she drives around town and doesn’t always see children younger than 8 years old properly restrained. Her own daughter, who is 6 1/2, fits into the new law, but Rohr said she is ready.

Her daughter likes her booster seat because the little girl can sit up higher and see better. Plus, Rohr added, it helps that her daughter’s friends also have booster seats.

“If she sees someone who doesn’t have one, she tells me,” Rohr said.

People worried about affording additional booster seats for their children, can contact Rohr at 254-4112. She said reliable booster seats are as little as $15.

She encouraged people to attend the fit session at the Health Department if they have any questions about child safety in vehicles, including newborns.


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