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Age, weight rules expanded for safety seats

December 26, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

A new state law will increase the age and weight requirements for which parents will have to place their children in child-safety or booster seats.

According to a law that goes into effect Jan. 1, children age 6 or older or who weigh 60 pounds or more are exempt from having to be placed in safety or booster seats.

Other children — with some exceptions — will have to be in some kind of child safety seat or booster seat.

For example, if a child is 5 years old and weighs 55 pounds, that child will have to be in the safety seat or on a booster seat.

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The booster seat would raise the child so that a vehicle's seat belt system better fits the child.

According to the California Highway Patrol, a child who is 5 years old but weighs 63 pounds would not have to be placed in a specialized seat.

In addition, a 6-year-old child weighing under 60 pounds would not have to be placed in a specialized seat.

Highway Patrol officials have said the new law will replace the state's age 4 and 40 pounds law, which states children age 4 or younger have to be in a safety seat or booster. That law also states children regardless of age who weigh under 40 pounds have to be in safety seats or boosters.

Highway Patrol Officer Jason Burke said this morning the new law is designed to keep as many children safe as possible.

"The longer children are in the safety seats, the safer they are," Burke said.

He said there are other exceptions to the new law. He said the law takes into consideration that older vehicles do not have both lap and shoulder belts.

Burke said booster seats are only required in vehicles that have both shoulder and lap belts. Booster seats allow the seat belts to fit across the part of a child's body where he or she has strong bones.

Without a booster, a shoulder belt can cross a child's face, which does nothing to protect the upper body.

Burke said booster seats will not work with vehicles that only have lap belts. For that reason, a child would not have to be placed on a booster seat in a vehicle that only has lap belts.

The Highway Patrol suggests those with questions about the law, call SafetyBelt U.S.A. at (310) 222-6860 or (800) 745-SAFE for English, or (310) 222-6862 or (800) 747-SANO for Spanish.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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