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2009-08-27 digital edition

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2009-08-27 / General Stories

Give Texas a Boost With Booster Seat Initiative

Texas AgriLife Extension Service Lee County will provide booster seats to qualifying families as part of the Department of State Health Services Give Texas a Boost Initiative. Families will need to preregister for a booster seat and then attend a one-time event or appointment to receive the seat and have it properly fitted for their child by a certified child passenger safety technician.

How to register. Low-income families are encouraged to call Texas AgriLife Extension Service Lee County Extension Agent Tonya Poncik at 979-542-2753 to see if they qualify for a booster seat.

What is a booster seat? A booster seat 'boosts' the child up so the lap/shoulder belt will fit correctly and provide protection in a crash. Many parents are under the impression that a child can be moved to the vehicle seat belt system when they have outgrown the weight limits of their child safety seat. Most conventional forward-facing child safety seats have a 5-point harness system that can be used until the child reaches 40 pounds. However, most children weigh 40 pounds long before they are tall enough to fit in the vehicle lap/shoulder belt. In order to get the best protection from a seat belt, children usually need a booster until they are about 4 feet 9 inches tall and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds.

New laws in Texas. Effective September 1, 2009, Texas will have a new child safety seat law. The law states that children under 8 years of age - unless taller than 4 feet 9 inches - will need to be in a child safety seat system (this includes traditional child safety seats with harnesses and booster seats). Many are referring to this new law as the 'booster seat law' because it will extend the current law to cover older children who need to ride in booster seats.

According to the law, once a child reaches 8 years old OR a height of over 4 feet 9 inches he/ she will not be legally required to use a child safety seat system. Thus, a child who is 8 years old, but is not yet 4 feet 9 inches tall will be able to legally use the vehicle lap/shoulder belt and not need to be in a child safety seat system. Best practice however, is that children not ride in the vehicle lap/shoulder belt until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Another occupant protection law was passed that effective September 1, 2009 will require all passengers in a vehicle (including 15- passenger vans) to use a seat belt if there is one available in their seating position, regardless of age-this means adults will be required to buckle up in the back seat as well as the front seat.

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