Senate Expands Child Car Seat Protections

Apr 19, 2012

Get ready to give the youngsters in your car a little boost.

Current law already requires those younger than 5 to be in special child restraints. Others through age 15 just have to be belted up. This legislation spells out that 5, 6 and 7-year olds who are no taller than four feet nine inches need to also be in booster seats. This isn't the first time lawmakers have considered the issue. Each time before it has been defeated. But several had a change of heart after a pediatrician explained that regular seat belts are not designed for someone that small. More to the point, the position of those mandatory belts against a small child actually could cause major head and neck injuries. That was not enough to convince everyone. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs said this new measure underlines why he has opposed other seat belt mandates in the first place.

"The best parent for the child is that child's parents and not the state," said Biggs. "And I think ironic that the same individuals who insisted that we mandate the unsafe safety belt laws now say, 'Oh my gosh, we had some unintended consequences when we were trying to nanny state for everybody in the state.' And so now we have to fix that."

But Biggs found himself in the minority as the Senate approved the measure on a 19-11 vote. The penalty for failing to comply is a $50 fine. But that would be waived if the driver goes out and buys a booster seat.