In April 2008, Governor Deval Patrick signed Senate Bill 2018, dubbed the Booster Seat Bill, into law. Effective July 10, 2008, this enhancement of the Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law requires that all children riding in passenger motor vehicles must be in a Federally-approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years old or over 57 inches tall. This will significantly increase the number of children who will be required to ride in a booster seat.
When children outgrow their booster seats (usually around age 8 but more importantly when they are 4 feet 9 inches tall), they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat IF the belt fits properly. If fitted properly, a child should be able to:
- Sit with their back and hips against the vehicle seat back and sit without slouching.
- Bend their knees easily over the front edge of the seat and keep their feet flat on the floor.
- Safely wear the seat belt.
- Lap belt low and snug across the hips.
- Shoulder belt across mid-chest and shoulder.
- Use the properly adjusted vehicle head restraint.
- Remain in this position for the entire ride.
Never put the shoulder belt under the child’s arm or behind the child’s back. This can cause severe injuries in a crash. If the seat belt does not fit properly, the child should continue using a booster seat. It is recommended that children under age 13 should ride in the back seat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death among children ages 3 to 14.
To help ensure implementation of the new law, child safety seat checkup events will be offered around the Commonwealth on a regular basis. Checkups are important venues for parents, grandparents and others involved in child-care to learn how to properly buckle in children. At checkup events, nationally certified technicians will be on hand to inspect child safety seats and educate parents and guardians about how to correctly use their children’s seats.
If you need more information on how to obtain or properly install child passenger restraints, or would like to attend a checkup event in your community, call our toll-free Child Passenger Safety Hotline at 1-877-392-5956 or go to our website at www.mass.gov/childsafetyseats.