N.Y. Raises Age for Mandatory Child Booster Seats

March 29, 2005

As of March 27, all children in New York state ages 4, 5 and 6 in automobiles are required to be restrained in approved car booster seats.

New York Assemblyman Jack McEneny and Sen. Dean Skelos, who sponsored the successful booster seat legislation, say many kids weren’t big enough to be safely restrained by adult seat belts in the back seats of vehicles.

New York joins more than 25 states nationwide that now have booster seat laws for children above the age of 4. A similar law applying to those under age 8 will take effect in Indiana in July. Booster seat bills applying to various ages are also pending in 16 states.

Nearly 3,300 children nationwide ages 4-7 died in motor vehicle crashes between 1994 and 2002, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. In 95 percent of those accidents, children were either unrestrained or restrained only by an adult seat belt. Seventy-nine of those children died in New York state.

Booster seats position youngsters higher in cars so that seat belts work properly. Sgt. Jon Lupo, a child safety seat technician with the state police, said the law requires lap and shoulder safety belts to be used with the booster seats.

Fines for violating the new New York law will range from $25 to $100. While the NHTSA said children should be in booster seats until they reach 4 feet, 9 inches tall, Lupo said the state law has no exceptions.

The seats can be found at most department stores, where prices generally range from $14 to $26. Among five booster seats rated by Consumer Reports in August, the prices ranged from $20 to $120.

Before the latest law, only children up to 4 years old and 40 pounds were required to sit in a booster seat when traveling in a car. School buses, liveries, taxis and public transportation buses are exempt from the new restraint law.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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