Is New Booster Seat Law Missing Many?

11401264_1440645036257586_8524172879165326646_nStates around the country, including Kentucky, have passed laws requiring the use of booster seats in cars for children up to the age of 8 or 9. The Kentucky State Legislature just recently passed their version (HB 315) increasing the age requirement from 7 to 8 and the height requirement from 50 to 57 inches.

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, these types of laws do help considerably. They found that the extended age laws help reduce fatal injuries amongst children in this age group by 17 percent. They also seen a reduction of less severe injuries.

The main reason for this reduction is repositioning the seat belts to better fit the smaller size of children compared to adults. But, what about smaller yet older children and adults? The new law, coming into effect June 24th, will only cover children under 8 and shorter than 4ft 9in. So booster seats are not required for any child over 8 years old no matter how tall they are.

According to published height for age percentiles, a nine year old boy at just under 57 inches in height is actually quite tall for his age (95.6 percentile). For a girl, that height is even more extreme. And the average height of boys one year after the booster seat requirement ends is around 4ft 5in.

The 4ft 9in requirement, if there wasn’t an age limit, would actually include some adults. According to Census records, there’s a small, yet still significant, portion of the adult population near that cutoff height.

So, if the benefits of booster seats for older children are all about placement of the seat belt, is it time now for the car manufacturers and Federal regulators to require the ability to adjust the seat belt’s position in the car down to a reasonable height of both children and adults? This would bring the same kind of protection as the booster seat but to an even larger portion of the population. Tell us what you think below in the comments.


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