A new law went into effect in November 2009 requiring all children under eight years of age to sit in a safety seat when riding in an automobile. The previous law had required the use of age- and size-appropriate seats until a child reached his or her seventh birthday.
“While parents with children in elementary school may feel uncomfortable enforcing a safety seat rule, especially if their children put up a fuss, putting their children in booster seats can make a big difference in protecting them as passengers,” said Paul Dansker, Esq., a New York personal injury attorney
“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) consistently has found that about half the children between the ages of four and seven who are killed in car accidents are unrestrained. Among younger children who account for accident fatalities, about one-third are not restrained,” he added.
The NHTSA estimates that proper seats can reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers and preschoolers.
The New York State law specifies the type of restraint system required for children of different ages. All children under the age of four must sit in a federally-approved car seat when riding in a motor vehicle, including a school bus.
Infants should be placed in a rear-facing infant seat in the back seat until they reach about 27 inches and up to 20 pounds. Convertible seats can be used as either rear-facing infant seats or front-facing toddler seats. Seats that only face forward are designed for children who weigh at least 20 pounds. Some models can be converted into a booster seat for children who meet the weight guidelines.
All children between the ages of four and six, and younger children who weigh over 40 pounds, should use a booster seat, harness or safety seat in combination with the car’s lap and shoulder belt, as long as they meet the height and weight recommendations of the manufacturer.
These laws apply to all children being transported in are not required on school buses. “Even with this new and more stringent law, we may not be going far enough to protect our child passengers,” said Dansker. “A parent or adult driver is not required to put a child in a booster seat once he or she reaches 4 feet 9 inches, 100 pounds, or eight years of age. Yet many eight-year-olds are not yet tall or heavy enough to sit in a standard seat with a safety belt that fits properly and offers enough protection in the event of an accident.”
“Simple safety measures such as car and booster seats go a long way to help prevent injury and fatal injury to children in the event of an accident,” noted Dansker. “Adults who drive with children in the car should take just a small amount of time to shop for and properly install the right equipment for their passengers.”
For more information on personal injury lawyer Paul Dansker, please visit http://www.dandalaw.com.
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