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THE SAFETY ZONE

Bill's Aim: More Kids in Booster Seats

August 14, 2000|Associated Press

Children up to age 6 or weighing up to 60 pounds could soon be required to be buckled into car booster seats, if a bill pending in the state Assembly is approved.

Currently, children up to 4 years old or up to 40 pounds must ride in a child safety seat.

Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Daly City) said her bill could save the lives of children who have outgrown regular child car seats but are too small to properly wear an adult seat belt.

"Seat belts were created for a 168-pound male," Speier said at a news conference at the state Capitol.

A child can easily slip out of a seat belt in a collision or face abdominal or spinal cord injuries if not strapped into a booster seat, she said.

Booster seats raise the child so the lap belt fits over the pelvis and the shoulder strap fits across the chest, reducing the possibility of spinal cord and abdominal injuries.

The seats cost $15 to $50, and there are programs available to help low-income families buy them, said Kacey Hansen, an emergency room nurse who spoke on behalf of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Both houses last year approved the bill, which then would have required children age 7 and younger to use safety seats. However, it was not sent to Gov. Gray Davis because of his concerns. His office said Tuesday that he does not yet have a position on the new version.

If Speier's bill is signed by Davis, all passengers younger than 6 or weighing less than 60 pounds will have to be buckled into a child safety seat or a booster seat.

A federal panel recently recommended that children weighing 40 to 80 pounds ride in booster seats.

The bill is pending in the Assembly and must be approved before the Legislative session ends Aug. 31.

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