Whitesburg KY
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Safer rides for kids

It took child safety advocates and Kentucky law enforcement agencies more than three years to win support for upgrading the state’s vehiclebooster seat law. After convincing opponents that the measure simply tweaked an existing law that already requires children to use a booster seat after they outgrow an infant care seat, the bill’s sponsors were able to see the measure pass in the General Assembly’s 2015 session.

Currently, children who have outgrown an infant car seat must ride in a booster seat if they are younger than 7 and between 40 and 50 inches tall. Under the new law, those younger than 8 and up to 57 inches tall must be in a booster seat.

Passing the bill was just the first step to make cars safer for children. Now advocates of the law have to spread the word to parents. The law will go into effect in late June or early July.

The fine for violators is $25. But the potential of being fined will have little influence on parents.

Getting parents to follow the law will hinge on making them aware of the risks they take if they don’t keep children in a booster seat until their bodies are suited to wearing just a seat belt.

The purpose of booster seats is to elevate children so they won’t be injured by a seat belt. If a seat belt hits the child at the stomach and neck — rather than the lap and shoulder as it should — the child is at a greater risk of suffering life-threatening injuries to organs and the spine.

The new law falls in line with recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety is working on a statewide campaign to make parents aware of the law.

But anyone who cares for the wellbeing of children can help spread the word.

This is also a good time to review how infant car seats and booster seats should be installed. The Kentucky State Police website as a guide at www.kentuckystatepolice.org/hsp/child_ safety.html.

The new booster seat law is not a burden. It is a lifesaver.

— The Kentucky New Era, Hopkinsville

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