EDITORIAL: Belt them in- The new Booster Seat Law should motivate caretakers of children to do what

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Kansas lawmakers continue to make car travel safer for our youngest and most vulnerable children-applying the power of the law to help motivate parents who otherwise may not take seriously enough the danger to their offspring.

The state’s new Booster Seat Law went into effect Saturday, July 1. It requires children between the ages of 4 and 7 years to be belted into an approved booster seat if they weigh less than 80 pounds or are shorter than 4-feet, 9-inches. The new law provides exemptions for wearing positions when there is only a lap safety belt available.

For this first year, drivers who are caught violating the new law will only be warned. But after July 1, 2007, violators can expect to pay $60 fine plus court costs.

In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be necessary to legislate action of this kind. Parental responsibility should be enough to keep our children safe. Most parents who haven’t been strapping their kids in booster seats prior to the new law don’t intend to put their kids in greater danger. But studies have proven that booster seats, when used properly, are more effective than safety belts alone at reducing the risk of injury to children involved in a crash, according to Safe Kids Kansas Inc.

If the threat of a fine helps parents remember to use a booster seat, we can tolerate one more limitation of our “freedom” to make bad choices. -DR

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