Archive for Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sebelius signs booster seat bill

Law extends to certain children ages 4 to 7; takes effect July 1

March 28, 2006

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Adyson Crough, 5, a kindergartner from Indian Hills Elementary school and Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Tim McCool demonstrate for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius how to use a booster seat Monday, March 27, 2006, at the Susanna Wesley Church in Topeka, Kan., after the governor signed the new booster seat law.

Adyson Crough, 5, a kindergartner from Indian Hills Elementary school and Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Tim McCool demonstrate for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius how to use a booster seat Monday, March 27, 2006, at the Susanna Wesley Church in Topeka, Kan., after the governor signed the new booster seat law.

— A bill requiring more young children to ride in booster seats was signed into law Monday by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who said the state still can make further improvements in its vehicle safety laws.

Sebelius said she supports mandating seat belts for all teenagers, and allowing law enforcement officers to stop drivers for not buckling up, rather than having to stop them for another infraction first, such as speeding.

As backers of the legislation looked over her shoulder, Sebelius signed the bill in front of dozens of preschoolers and kindergarten students at a southwest Topeka church holding a safety fair for the youngsters. The new law takes effect July 1.

"Still, the No. 1 cause of death for children in Kansas is car accidents," Sebelius told her audience. "The more we can do to make sure you and children like you all across this state are safe, we want to do it."

State law already requires children under 4 years old to ride in safety seats and children 4 through 13 to wear seat belts. But safety advocates, law enforcement officials and health officials say that belts don't often fit young children, and they can be hurt severely in accidents.

The new law requires children ages 4 through 7 to ride in booster seats if they weigh less than 80 pounds or are less than 4 foot 9 inches tall. For the first year it is in effect, drivers whose child passengers aren't in booster seats will receive a warning ticket. After July 1, 2007, the fine will be $60, triple the current amount.

Supporters of the bill waged a six-year campaign to get it passed.

"There's several more ways we can prevent injuries," said Cindy D'Ercole, a lobbyist for Kansas Action for Children. "When we look at statistics, it's clear that teenagers have some of the highest death rates in the state."

Critics of the booster seat legislation have said it represents government intrusion into families' lives. Opponents of tougher seat belt laws view them as infringing upon personal liberties.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Gary Hayzlett, who opposed this year's bill, said he's not surprised its advocates are talking about pursuing other proposals.

"They'll be back for more and more and more," said Hayzlett, R-Lakin. "I think up to the point, maybe, where they require seat belts on all the toilet stools in all public restrooms - that might be the end of it."


Angel Johnson buckles in her daughter Bridgette, 7, a Prairie Park first-grader, after school Monday. The Kansas House of Representatives on Monday passed a booster seat bill that would require many children to continue using child safety seats until age 8.

Angel Johnson buckles in her daughter Bridgette, 7, a Prairie Park first-grader, after school Monday. The Kansas House of Representatives on Monday passed a booster seat bill that would require many children to continue using child safety seats until age 8.

State law requires all front-seat passengers to wear seat belts but makes a violation a "secondary" offense, meaning a driver has to be stopped for another offense first.

Also, children 14 and older don't have to wear seat belts if they're riding in the middle or back seat of a vehicle.

"We need to keep looking for ways to keep children, teens, safer on roads," Sebelius said after the bill-signing ceremony. "We continue to have far too many kids killed on the road."

Comments

craigers 9 years, 3 months ago

Children do need to be in car seats and booster seats. The other day I saw a guy driving with his little kid in the driver's seat with him. I just couldn't believe it. The kid couldn't have been older than two and was sitting in the front seat while the car was moving. I'm glad people are really careful with their children. I don't see this bill as a bad thing, but I see it as a problem when it comes to the police just having to think you don't have a seat belt on and then they can stop you with out any other infractions. That seems like a bunch of garbage, but then if they saw a kid out of their booster seat when they shouldn't be then I don't think I would have a problem with that. I think that adults lives are valuable too and should be protected but if the adults aren't protecting their children who aren't old enough to make that decision, then something needs to be done.

mom_of_three 9 years, 3 months ago

There is a problem with the picture used as an example. It appears the child is sitting in the front seat. If the car has an air bag, it is STRONGLY recommended that children under the age of 12 not sit in the front seat.
I think that should be mentioned.

jfan 9 years, 3 months ago

"children 14 and older don't have to wear seat belts if they're riding in the middle or back seat of a vehicle."

What happened to "Click it or ticket?" I thought everyone was required to wear a seatbelt, no?

sunflower_sue 9 years, 3 months ago

My 9 1/2 year old still sits in a booster seat and probably will for at least another year. She is just too darn tiny not to be in one. My 11 year old is 5' and weighs 105 lbs. I still do not let her ride in the front seat because of the airbag. I'm glad that they passed a law but I seriously doubt that they will enforce it. What we need is parent education. (Oh, how silly of me!)

76_IH_Scout_Dad 9 years, 3 months ago

It's sad we even need child seat and seat belt laws. My simple desire to keep my kids safe is all I need to make sure they have there belt on. I also would like not to die in a crash so I wear my belt. Why is it so difficult for parents to use seat belts and child seats? We have to pass a law to force people to be responsible parents? Very sad.

poormom 9 years, 2 months ago

Although I am an advocate of police having more rights to pull over parents for not having their children in seatbelts or carseats, once again the legislature is taking it too far. I am a mother of three children ages 2-8. I am also a low income parent who can only afford a small Ford ZX2. Anyone familiar with this car will no that not only is there no room for three children to be placed into booster seats in the back, there is only two seat belts there. I agree that children who are small for their age should continue to be in a booster seat for a little longer for their own protection but you can go to Wal-mart and purchase seatbelt adjusters that will help to keep seatbelts in the proper location to provide better protection. It is very scary to know that I will face a $60 ticket for a child who is in third grade when my car will not support another seatbelt or booster seat. Poor people have to make a lot of concessions in this world and unfortunatly that includes safety in vehicles. You have to have money to purchase vehicles with lots of space and extra safety precautions.

This law started out as a means to protect those children of parents who allow them to hop around while they are driving or the insane mothers who will actually hold their babies in their laps while driving for their own comfort. Now it will hinder people who have no way to fight it and no way to change their situations. Maybe the fabulous governor can purchase mini-vans and SUV's for all of us that come equipped with booster seats so we can fill these requirements. But no, this is another way to squeeze money out of an already depressed lower class. Thanks a lot.

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