New bill promotes child safety - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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New bill promotes child safety

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Posted: Friday, March 25, 2011 10:00 am

A new law making its way through the Legislature is aiming to make kids safer but some residents think it may be unnecessary.

House Bill 2452 would change the current law regarding child restraint in cars. The current law requires children under the age of 5 to be restrained in a booster seat in a vehicle. With the new bill, children under the age of 8 or shorter than 4 feet, 11 inches would be required to sit in a child restraint system. The law defines a child restraint system as an add-on, built-in or factory-installed restraint system, a rear facing child restraint system or a booster seat.

“I don’t think that’s necessary,” said Susanne Maevryk of Ahwatukee Foothills. “I think if they’re tall enough to do the seat OK, where their knees touch the edge, that’s fine.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends having kids in a booster seat up until the age of 12 or when they fit into a seat belt properly. The seat belt must lie across the upper thigh, not the stomach, and the shoulder and chest, not the neck or face.

Some residents believe 12 years old would be too much and that the height requirement in HB 2452 is questionable.

“I know some adults who aren’t even 5 foot,” said Russ Byers, an Ahwatukee resident. “I think it’s silly. I think weight should really be the only determining factor.”

Local AAA representatives are happy that the bill is passing so far.

“Arizona has one of the weakest child restraint laws in the country,” said Linda Gorman, public affairs director for AAA. “We are one of three states that does not have laws that properly protect children over the age of 4.”

Gorman said a proper restraint system can reduce the risk of injury by as much as 60 percent.

“We encourage all parents to stay educated about proper child restraint systems,” she said. “Even if the child is older than 5 years old, they may be following the law but they may not be providing proper restraint for the child’s safety.”

AAA offices have a traffic safety educator to help check any child restraint system for free. To schedule an appointment, call (602) 241-2945.

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