S.D. Legislature Nixes Booster Seat Proposal for Older Kids

January 26, 2007

A bill to require booster seats for children from the age of 5 through 7 was killed this week in the South Dakota Legislature.

Supporters said many parents don’t realize that older children often suffer serious injuries or are killed because seat belts and safety harnesses do not properly restrain them.

Most parents know they should use infant seats for the youngest children, but they don’t follow through when those children get older, said Dick Tieszen, lobbyist for State Farm Insurance.

“The use of safety seats dramatically decreases for older children, and that as a result of that, the older children are experiencing injuries,” he said.

But opponents of the bill said the governor has a good program that distributes booster seats and it could be hurt if state law is changed to require them.

They also said it would be difficult to enforce a law that would require booster seats for children ages 5 through 7 who are not yet 57 inches tall. Police couldn’t tell their ages by looking at them or how tall they are, opponents of HB1134 said.

“I don’t think the time has come when we want to arrest mothers and traumatize the kids when we don’t know what we’re doing as far as making arrests goes … with a measuring stick,” said Rep. Gordon Pederson, R-Wall.

The bill failed 6-7 in the House Transportation Committee.

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