Most six- and 7-year-olds will have to wait a little longer to chuck their booster seats under a new California law that went into effect Jan. 1 and is designed to make vehicle travel safer for kids.
The new law, sponsored by Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, requires children to remain in booster seats until they are 8 years old or are 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Before, children could legally avoid booster seats when they turned 6 or reached 60 pounds. The new law does away with the weight requirement.
“Seat belts are not designed for small children. That's why we need booster seats to make sure they are safe in cars,” Evans said Friday.
Vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death and traumatic brain injury for children ages 4 to 8.
According to data from the state Department of Public Health, 113 children ages 6 and 7 died in motor vehicle crashes from 2000 to 2009 in California. An additional 414 suffered serious brain injuries.
Child safety advocates say booster seats have been shown to decrease the risk of injury and death by 60 percent.
“I think it's great. It's a chance to keep kids safer a little longer,” said Molly Caselli of Sonoma.
Inspired by the new law, Caselli said she bought a nicer car seat for her 5-year-old son, Richie Cross.
Once he outgrows that, Caselli will have to get him a booster seat. A booster seat differs from a child safety seat in that it adjusts only the height of the child so that the seat belt fits properly.
The lap belt portion of seat belts often ride up too high on a child's stomach and the shoulder strap often is too near a child's neck or face. Booster seats help correct those problems by lifting a child higher so that the belt straps align with bones that can better withstand the force of a collision, such as the pelvis and clavicle.
“Booster seats do not need to be secured with a seat belt or other clip,” CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.