Special to the Journal
In an effort to save more children’s lives, a new law requiring six and seven- year-olds to be in a booster seat will go into effect on July 1. The legislation, introduced as House Bill 279 in the House by Representative Alan Powell of Hartwell, and as Senate Bill 88 in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, was advocated by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Safe Kids Georgia.
In 2008, a total of 14,154 children ages six to eight years in Georgia were involved in motor vehicle crashes. Of those children, 1,755 were injured and 10 were killed. Only twelve percent of these children were reported to be using a supplemental restraint, such as a child safety seat or a booster seat, in addition to the adult seat belt In the three-year period from 2005 to 2007, hospitalization charges for 248 children who were hospitalized due to motor vehicle traffic related injuries were about $7 million. An additional $5 million in charges was for the 5,111 emergency room visits for the same period.
The following outlines the parameters of the law applicable to six and seven year olds:
Children under age eight must be properly secured in an approved car seat or booster seat while riding in cars, Vans, SUVs and Pickup Trucks; however, exemptions include taxicabs and public transit vehicles. The car seat and/or booster seat must:
· Be in the rear seat
· Be appropriate for the child’s weight and height
· Meet all U.S. federal standards
· Be installed and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions
When installing car seats, individuals should consider using the vehicle lap belt to install car seats for younger children, leaving lap and shoulder belts for children needing booster seats or for others riding in the car. The following exemptions apply:
· Children under age eight whose height is 4’9 or 57”; or
· The child’s parent or guardian has a written statement from a Physician that the child has a physical or medical condition that prevents placing or restraining them as required by law. Parents or guardians should keep this statement in their possession.
These exemptions were part of existing law and are not new requirements of Senate Bill 88.