New Booster Seat Law takes Effect - Thursday July 10th, 2008
Georgetown - A new law requiring children under 8 to ride in a booster seat while they ride in a vehicle takes effect today, July 10.
Gov. Deval Patrick signed the booster bill into law on April 11, requiring children to ride in booster seats until they are 8 years old or reach 4 feet 9 inches in height. The law goes into effect on July 10.
“This new law sends parents and caregivers an important message that seat belts are not designed for children, but booster sears are,” said DPH Commissioner John Auerbach. “Most injuries can be prevented by using booster seats properly.”
Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of children between the ages of 4 and 8. Booster seats can reduce those injury rates by 58 percent compared to seat belt use for the same age group.
The purpose of the booster seat, which is used when children reach the weight limit of their forward facing car seat, is to position the safety belt across the stronger parts of a child’s body — the hip and shoulder rather than the stomach and neck. The safest place for children to ride is in the back seat.
The new law still requires children ages 8 to 12 years old to wear a safety belt when traveling in an automobile. The previous law only required children younger than 5 years old and weighing less than 40 pounds to ride in a child safety seat.
Booster seats can be purchased for $15 to $150 and must be used with a vehicle lap/shoulder belt. The two most widely used types of booster seats are the “high back” or a “backless” booster seat. Both must be used with a vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt for proper positioning.
Consumers with questions about the booster seat law may contact the DPH safety information line at 1-800-227-7233 (1-800-CAR-SAFE).
Frequently asked questions on the new law:
Why does my child need a booster seat?
- Beginning July 10, 2008 a booster seat is required by law for children 5-7 years of age or until they reach 4 feet 9 inches in height in the state of Massachusetts.
- A booster seat helps your child fit correctly in your vehicle’s safety belt. It positions the lap belt on the hips and the shoulder belt across the chest, providing the greatest amount of protection.
- Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of children between the ages of 4-8. Booster seats can reduce those injury rates by 58 percent over seat belt use for that age group.
What does the new booster seat law say?
- Its says that “no child under the age of 8 and measuring less than 57 inches shall ride as a passenger in a motor vehicle on any way unless such child is properly fastened and secured, according to the manufacturers’ instructions, by a child passenger restraint”.
- The previous law only required children under 5 years of age and under 40 pounds to ride in a child safety seat.
- The new law also states that children ages 8 to 12 are required to wear a safety belt when traveling in a motor vehicle.
- To read the law click here.
When does the law go into effect?
- The law will go into effect on July 10, 2008.
What is the fine if my child is not riding in a booster seat?
- The driver can be stopped by the police and fined $25.
How do I know when my child needs to move from a car seat to a booster seat?
- Children need to move from a child safety seat to a booster seat when they reach the weight limit on their forward facing child safety seat.
- Your forward-facing child safety seat will have a sticker telling you its weight limit.
- If your child’s ears are above the back of the child’s safety seat and/or their shoulders are above the top strap slots they are ready to move from a child safety seat into a booster seat.
How do I put my child’s booster seat in my vehicle?
- Booster seats are generally easy to use.
- Read your vehicle’s owner’s manual and the booster seat installation manual for instructions.
- A certified Child Passenger Safety technician can check your child safety seat or booster seat for safety and assure proper fit. These checkpoints are free but usually require an appointment. To find a technician near you call the Car Safe Line at 1-800-CAR-SAFE (1-800-227-7233) at the MA Department of Public Health or click here.
What is the best kind of booster seat to buy?
- The two most widely used booster seats are a “high back” or a “backless” booster seat. Both must be used with the vehicles lap/shoulder belt for proper positioning.
- No one booster seat is the “safest.” Choose the seat that best fits your child and your car. Check the label on the booster seat for height and weight limits and then make sure it is used properly.
How much do booster seats cost?
- Prices range from $15 to $150. Price is not necessarily a factor in the safety of the booster seat.
What if I can’t afford a booster seat?
- For more information on where to get free or discounted booster seats call the Car Safe Line at 1-800-CAR-SAFE (1-800-227-7233) or click here.
When can I take my child out of a booster seat and have them use a seat belt?
- When your child is at least 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall according to the new Massachusetts law
- To check the fit of your child’s seat belt once they move out of their booster seat make sure that:
- They are tall enough to sit without slouching, generally over 4 feet 9 inches and 80 pounds;
- Their shoulder belt rests comfortably across the shoulder and chest, not on the neck or throat;
- Their lap belt fits securely, low and snug on hips;
- They can sit with their back and buttocks against the vehicle seat;
- Their knees completely bend over the edge of the vehicle seat.