Enhanced Child Passenger Safety Law Goes into Effect July 10
Governor Deval Patrick signed Senate Bill 2018, dubbed the Booster Seat Bill, into law in April. This enhancement of the Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law requires that all children riding in passenger motor vehicles be in a federally-approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years old or more than 57 inches tall. Once a child has outgrown a child seat, he or she needs to use a belt positioning booster seat until attaining the required age or inches in height. The new law enhances the previous age and size requirements, which were 5 years and up to 40 pounds.
The Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law is a primary enforcement law. With minor exceptions, a police officer may stop a motor vehicle if a child is riding with improper restraints or no restraints. A driver can be fined up to $25 for each improperly restrained child.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14 nationwide. Children 12 and under are safest when properly restrained in the back seat, ideally away from airbags.
The Massachusetts Safety Belt Law requires everyone to buckle up. Adults need to set a good example for children; statistics show that 70 percent of youngsters whose parents don't use safety belts will not buckle up when they grow up. A 2007 EOPSS survey found only a 69 percent safety belt use rate among front seat occupants of all ages in Massachusetts - far lower than the national use rate of 82 percent. The low seat belt compliance rate is a serious public safety and health issue given that safety belts reduce one's risk of death or serious injury in a crash by up to 50 percent.
EOPSS recently awarded 67 Child Passenger Safety Equipment Grants totaling $660,773 to Massachusetts communities and organizations to help reduce motor vehicle fatalities and injuries involving children, and to support the implementation of the enhanced Child Passenger Safety Law.
For more information on how to obtain or properly install child passenger restraints, call the Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Hotline at 1-877-392-5956, TTY 1-617-725-0261, or go to www.mass.gov/childsafetyseats.
(Members of the Massachusetts State Police will be available on Wednesday, July 9 at General Headquarters, 470 Worcester Rd., Framingham, to discuss the new Child Passenger Safety Law. Interested media must first call the Media Relations Office at 508-820-2623 to arrange an interview.)