Assemblywoman Sandy Galef announced that New York State has expanded the booster seat law to require children under the age of 8 to sit in a booster seat while in an automobile. The previous law required children ages 4-6 to use booster seats. Most 7-year old children, however, are not yet physically mature enough to be adequately secured by a vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt. This often results in children being more seriously injured than if they were properly secured in a car seat. The new law will take effect on November 24th, 2009.
“This new law ensures that our children will be safely secured in cars, giving them an extra year to grow to the proper size required to safely use a seat belt without fear for the high level of harm that could be caused by an automobile crash,” Galef said. “Booster seats are proven to reduce the risk of injury and it’s important to do all that we can to make sure children aren’t using seat belts alone giving them a false sense of security when it is not safe for them to do so.”
Booster seats are effective because the seat lifts the child up to the reach the average adult’s sitting height. Seat belts were not designed for young children and the straps have become a hazard to children in accidents. Young children who only use seat belts rather than booster or child-safety seats are more likely to suffer life-threatening injuries in a crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, booster seats can reduce the risk of injury by 59 percent when compared to children who only use seatbelts. In addition, children in booster seats are often more comfortable because they are correctly positioned in the seat. This will give fewer children the opportunity to move the shoulder strap to a more comfortable yet more dangerous position.
“I am pleased that this law will take effect. Booster seats give children better support and protection so we can be sure they travel more safely in our cars,” concluded Galef.