AAA East Central reminds motorists and parents that the warning period for the new booster seat law expires and that motorists may be ticketed beginning Tuesday, April 6, 2010.
The new law requires motorists to safely restrain 4-8 year-olds under 4-feet, 9-inches tall in a federally approved booster seat while riding in a motor vehicle.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 4-8 in Ohio. In a recent five-year period, 76 children ages 4-8 were killed in car crashes. More than 18,000 were injured during the same time, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Child booster seats are designed for children 4-8 years old and are a known lifesaver when properly used with lap shoulder belts. However, more than 60 percent of parents and caregivers still do not use booster seats.
"The best protection for children in the 4 to 8 year-old range is to place the child in the rear with a belt-positioning booster seat," said Brian Newbacher, director of public affairs for AAA East Central.
"Booster seats help protect children from injury and death in crashes by ensuring that the adult seat belt fits properly. Proper fit reduces the risk of "lap belt syndrome," which occurs when the lap belt portion of the adult seat belt rides up into a child's abdomen, potentially causing internal injuries to the liver and spleen," Newbacher added.
The effectiveness of booster seats in protecting children from serious crash-related injuries is well documented, according to AAA.
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (Dr.'s Durbin, Winston) reported that booster seats reduced the odds of sustaining significant injuries in a crash by 59 percent of children ages 4-7 in 15 states studied.
Booster seats were especially effective in reducing injuries to the abdomen, neck, spine, back, and lower extremities. NHTSA-sponsored research shows that booster seat use rates are very low. A 2002 study of booster seat use in 6 states found:
· 37 percent of children aged 4-8 were using booster seats,
· 46 percent were inappropriately using adult seatbelts, and
· 17 percent were riding completely unrestrained.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, research about the importance of an educational component increasing booster seat usage has significant implications for state policymakers. AAA says it's crucial to pass booster seat legislation and connect it with educational and outreach components such as car seat clinics.
"Parents often look to state laws for guidance in traffic safety issues," said Newbacher. "Since the launch of AAA's child passenger safety initiative in 2002, AAA has helped to lead the effort to pass booster seat laws."