Young children are often susceptible to sustaining injury in a San Diego accident if they are not restrained properly. Most parents are well-aware that children under 6 years of age, or under 60 pounds, must be equipped with a car seat or booster seat to help prevent injury in the event of an accident. But a new law in California will take the measure further in 2012 by requiring parents to boost children less than 8 years of age when traveling in a moving vehicle.

The new legislation comes in wake of political debate concerning the safety of children in car accidents. Safety officials have criticized so-called weak policies surrounding child safety, and have worked hard to pass this new measure in the name of improved protection.

It’s been national practice for several years now,” said an instructor with the Consumes Fire Department. “Normally, California is a trendsetter, but we were pretty far behind.”

Small children are often seriously injured in a car accident even when they are restrained according to old law. Since seat belts are generally designed with adults in mind, a child’s safety can be marginalized if restrained in a seat belt alone due to the mismatch of size versus capability.

“Safety officials say the law is needed because most 6- and 7-year-olds are still too small to fit safely in adult seat belts. If they are too little, the seat belt can ride up on their belly and neck, and can injure internal organs in a crash,” she said.

The new safety measure will be effective as of January 1, 2012 and holds steep penalties for parents who do not follow the new law. Drivers or parents who fail to restrain children properly will incur a $475 ticket and a point on their record.

“Keeping them in booster seats increases their chance of surviving a crash by 45 percent,” said a California Office of Traffic Safety head.

How to pick out a booster seat for older children

Booster seats are fortunately inexpensive and can be purchased anywhere where children’s goods are sold. Prices can vary from $15 to $20. Choosing the most comfortable booster seat for your child will increase your child’s willingness to use the seat, and can a well-fitting seat can also help reduce the chance of San Diego personal injury.

When choosing a booster seat:

  • Make sure your child sits flush with the vehicle’s stock back seat
  • Make sure the seat allows for the belt to sit low on your child’s lap.

When positioning your child in the seat:

  • Make sure your child’s seat belt strap crosses the chest, avoiding the neck and face.
  • Do not allow your child to put the shoulder belt behind their arm or back.

About the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC

Michael Pines, founder, is San Diego’s injury and accident prevention expert with a running safety column at the La Jolla Light. The law firm specializes in San Diego car accident injury and offers free consultations to those injured in collisions. If you or your child has been injured in an accident and suspect it is someone else’s fault, call us now for a free legal evaluation at 1-858-551-2090.

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