House Committee Approves Bill to Expand Booster-Seat Law

Reported by: Melanie Kendall
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Updated: 2/11 11:41 pm

A Kentucky House Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would expand Kentucky’s booster-seat law. 

Its supporters say it was a big day for keeping kids in Kentucky safe but there’s still no guarantee it will become law.

Seat belts save lives but without booster-seats, a normal seat belt doesn’t correctly fit most kids according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.

“The issue is that we just don't have seat belts designed for children,” said Dr. Susan Pollack, a Kentucky Children’s Hospital pediatrician.  “So a booster just boosts them up so the lap belt parts fits on their hips instead of on their soft belly where it can cause internal injuries in a crash.”

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet released data from 147 trauma cases involving kids in car crashes collected by Kosair Children’s Hospital.  All were wearing seat belts and all of them had injuries to internal organs because of improperly positioned seat belts.  70% of kids in the crashes were eight or nine-years-old.  Half the children had head or face injuries, of which 30% were severe.  One in five had large-bone leg fractures.  One child had a traumatic amputation consistent with having a belt that was not snug.

House Bill 199 hopes to change those statistics.

“We did a good thing a couple years ago, but we can make it better and offer more protection to our children,” said Kathy Stein, a Fayette County Circuit Court judge. 

Stein is a former member of the Kentucky General Assembly who supported the original booster bill.  She now works in Family Circuit Court and wants to better protect kids.

“To give more safety to the children of the Commonwealth and more education to the parents who want to keep them safe and need to keep them safe,” said Stein about the bill.

The Bill was approved by the House Transportation Committee Tuesday.  It would require kids to be in booster-seats until age nine or until they’re 57 inches tall. 

This Bill expands the current law which keeps kids in booster-seats until age seven or 50 inches tall.

“If you are anywhere up to 4'9 you really need to be in a booster-seat in order to fit properly in a seat belt that was designed for an adult,” said Pollack.

32 states, including all of those surrounding Kentucky have stricter booster-seat laws.

Supporters of the bill say drivers shouldn’t have to buy anything new, they just need to keep using the same booster seat a little longer.

The Bill has passed in the House before only to fail in the Senate.

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