New law affects child safety seats

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Effective January 1, 2005, a new law in North Carolina will require every child under the age of 8 who weighs less than 80 pounds to ride in child safety seat.

Current law in North Carolina applies to children under the age of 5 and less than 40 pounds.

This means that children who may already be out of car seats will have to use an age/size appropriate booster seat.

The reason for the new law is due to national statistics that show that 83 percent of children between the ages of 3 and 8, who should be using car seats or belt-positioning booster seats, are being inappropriately graduated to an adult seat belt.1 Placing a child in a lap/shoulder belt before they are big enough can actually cause injury instead of preventing it.

&uot;Parents may have trouble convincing a child that he or she will need to sit in a booster seat,&uot; said Carol Helminski, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Certified Installation Specialist and Safety Coordinator with Graco Children’s Products.

&uot;There are many models available on the market today that come in cool colors or are backless for less of a &uot;baby seat&uot; look.&uot;

For parents of children now legally required to ride in booster seats, or who are ready to move their children into a booster seat, Graco Children’s Products provides the following tips:

Explain to your child from an early age that when he/she is older, a booster seat will still be needed.

Allow your child to be part of the decision making process by letting him/her help in selecting his/her booster seat.

Check your child’s weight and height to ensure that he/she is placed in the proper size safety seat.

When it is time to graduate to a booster seat, demonstrate to your child how the new seat will offer better protection than an adult seat belt.

Remember that a child’s age does not necessarily determine whether or not they should be in a booster seat.

The easiest way to know if he/she needs to be in a booster seat is to ask these five simple questions:

Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?

Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?

Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and the arm?

Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?

Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

If the answer is no to any of these questions, he/she should be using a booster seat.