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Archive for March 19th, 2008

The Michigan House and Senate have both passed a proposed child restraint bill, and Governor Jennifer Granholm says she intends to sign the bill into law.BBRegent0907.jpg picture by taruff

What do I say about it? It’s about time!

Michigan has the third-worst child restraint laws in the country (i.e. the least protective). Only Texas has substantially worse laws – there, a child can legally use just an adult seatbelt once they are 36″ tall. (For reference, Little Sister is about 35″ tall at 2.5 years old.)

The House and Senate have both passed separate bills in the past couple of bills, but all stalled and died in the transportation comittee. I was concerned that perhaps the auto or tourism industry lobbies were successfully killing the bills, but it appears that the legislature has finally come to its senses, as the current bill overwhelmingly passed the house and the senate, and went smoothly through the transportation committee.

Starting July 1, children under age 8 and less than 4’9″ must use a booster (or harnessed child restraint, as Big Brother does). I think children under a specific age must ride in the back seat, also, although I am having trouble finding the exact and complete wording.

Questions? Comments? Leave me a comment below! 

If you or someone you know needs help fitting child restraints into a vehicle, or truly needs financial assistance to purchase appropriate child restraints, please contact your local chapter of Michigan Safe Kids: http://www.michigansafekids.org/chapters.php
 

Here is an excellent article on the soon-to-be law and why is is important, taken from http://www.wzzm13.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=89448<!–

Many more Michigan children will soon have to ride in car booster seats.

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“Many more Michigan children will soon have to ride in car booster seats.The Michigan legislature passed the a stricter booster seat law this week and Governor Jennifer Granholm says she will sign it.A University of Michigan study found that only 8% of Michigan children use booster seats. Following that statistic, sponsors of the legislation say more than 90% of children between 4 and 8 years old who are seriously injured in auto accidents aren’t restrained in a booster seat.The new law will require all children to use a booster seat until they are eight years old, or until they are four-feet, nine-inches tall. Current law only requires children to be in an appropriate child safety seat of some kind until they are four years old.Katie Hauch is six years old. Her mother Lisa Hauch says, “She knows she has to sit in her booster and have her belt buckled before the car moves.”According to the new Michigan law, she will be using that booster for the next two years.Melinda Howard of Safe Kids of Greater Grand Rapids explains, “Kids should start using a booster seat at 40 pounds no matter when their age. And they should stay in a booster seat until they reach a height of 4 foot 9 inches.”Howard says seatbelts are very effective safety devices, but they are designed for adults.She points out, “The reason the seatbelt fits well is because the lap belt sits across my pelvis and your pelvis is a very strong bone. And it can absorb a lot of crash forces. The shoulder belt goes across the sternum and the collar bone. In a crash, you want those strong bones to absorb all of the crash forces.”But on a child, Howard explains, “The lap belt actually goes up into their abdomen. The only thing to absorb the crash forces in a crash are the internal organs the soft tissue. Many kids actually can get a severed spine because there’s nothing absorbing the force of that crash.”

Also, the shoulder belt often hits a child uncomfortably on the neck, instead of the shoulder.

Katie Hauch likes to put the shoulder belt behind her back, but Howard reminds her, “Always, always, always leave it in front. That’s the most important thing.”

Howard says leaving the shoulder belt behind a child leaves them open to head and face injuries if her face hits her legs or the seat in front of her during a crash. She says, “Seventy-one percent of kids between the ages of four and eight have injuries to the head and face and this is exactly why – because they put the shoulder belt behind them.”

On the other hand, when a child sits on a booster seat, Howard says, “All that the booster seat does is it lifts them up so that the seat belt contacts their strong bones. It fits them appropriately. … The lap belt goes across her pelvis, which is a strong bone. It no longer goes up into her abdomen and the shoulder belt – it doesn’t rub on her neck, it actually goes on her collar bone, which is right where it should be.”

Howard feels so strongly about booster seats, that through Safe Kids she helped Cross Creek Charter Academy, Katie’s school, and Howard’s children’s school, get a grant for booster seats for field trips.

Cross Creek Principal Joe Nieuwkoop explains, “All of the young fives through second grade students sit in booster seats when we go on field trips.”

Mother Lisa Hauch often drives on those field trips and says, “I get no complaints. They all know what they have to do and get in.”

Many more children in Michigan will soon be learning that habit.

Thirty-eight other states already have booster seat laws.

Michigan’s law will go into effect July 1, 2008. Violators will face fines and court costs of up to $65 per offense. In Michigan, the booster seat law, like seat belt and child safety seat laws, are primary offenses, so a police officer can pull you over if you are not wearing a seat belt or if your child is not properly restrained.”

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