Sixty-five new laws took effect in our state on Friday. New laws like immigration and Sunday alcohol sales have gotten much media attention since they were approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.
One new law, with potentially life-saving consequences, has not received as much attention as immigration and alcohol. That law is Senate Bill 88, which raises from 5 years through 7 years the age in which children must ride in car seats.
Extending the car seat age by two years – until a child reaches age 8 – is intended on saving lives. Regular seat belts in cars simply to not properly protect many 6 and 7 year olds, say safety officials.
The new law makes sense because vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for children from ages 3-14. Safety officials emphasize child safety seats are truly a lifesaving device when installed and buckled properly. Unfortunately, too many child safety seats are installed improperly. There are child safety seat inspection stations throughout our state. You can visit www.nhtsa.gov/carseatcheck to find one near you.
As this new law becomes effective, we thought it appropriate to review the four guidelines for child safety seats in Georgia:
• For the best possible protection, keep infants in the back seat in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds.
• When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds), they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).
• Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall).
• When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4 feet 9) they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the chest).
This is an important matter. It can be life-saving. Buckle up, and properly buckle the little ones.