New law boosts seats
Friday, August 01, 2003
Boosters required up to age 8
So, you’re running down the vacation checklist: Pack the suitcases. Find the sunscreen. Book the dog sitter. Buy the kids booster seats.
What? That last one wasn’t on your checklist? But it should be. As of mid-July, Illinois state law requires all children under 8 to be secured in a booster seat when riding in a car. Previously, only children under 4 were required to ride in a restraint.
The new law also requires passengers ages 8-16 to wear seat belts and makes the driver responsible for ensuring they do. Drivers who break the new booster seat law could be fined $50 for the first offense and $100 for subsequent offenses.
Officials at the National Safety Council, based in northwest suburban Itasca, estimate 15 children’s lives will be saved each year as a result of the new law, according to the governor’s office. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for children.
Children between 4 and 8 years old, or those who weigh more than 40 pounds, should be restrained in a belt-positioning booster seat that raises the child high enough so the adult lap and shoulder belt fit properly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/. The lap belt should fit low and tight across the lap and the shoulder belt should fit snugly across the chest and shoulder to avoid abdominal injuries.
A belt-positioning booster seat can be used until the child is around 4 feet, 9 inches tall. Styles of the seat include no back, base-only and high-back, which provides head support. The safety administration says the child’s ear should not be above the back of the booster seat or the vehicle seat cushion.
Toddlers and children under 40 pounds should not ride in a booster seat—they still need a full harness car seat to protect their upper body and hold them in their seats.
Expect to pay about $30 for a seat-only booster, with prices for full booster seats starting at about $50 and going up.
--Stefanie Murray, Medill News Service