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New Ohio Booster Seat Law
When should my child move from a booster seat to a seat belt?
A booster seat is designed to place a child higher on the vehicle seat so that the lap/shoulder belt fits correctly. Seat belt fit varies from car to car and from person to person. It is safest for your child to remain in a booster seat until the adult seat belt system fits his/her properly as follows:
- Your child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with his/her knees bent at the edge of the seat without slouching.
- The shoulder belt lies in middle of his/her chest and shoulder, not his/her neck or throat.
- The lap belt is low and snug across the upper thighs, not the belly.
- Your child can stay in this position comfortably throughout the entire trip.
- Additional information on proper fitting can be found at: http://www.carseat.org/
What is the New Law?
As of Oct. 7, 2009,* Ohio’s children are required to use belt-positioning booster seats once they outgrow their child safety seats (usually at 4 years old and 40 pounds) until they are 8 years old, unless they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches (57 inches) tall.
Ohio’s revised child restraint law requires the following:
- Children* less than 4 years old or 40 pounds must use a child safety seat.
- NEW: Children* less than 8 years old, unless they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall must use a booster seat.
- Children* ages 8-15 must use a child safety seat or safety belt.
*Law enforcement will issue warnings only for the first six months. Full enforcement will begin on April 7, 2010. Fines will range from a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $75 per occurrence. A booster seat can be purchased for as little as $15. Don’t wait for a warning or ticket!
Why isn’t the seat belt enough?
- Seat belts were designed for adults and can leave a child at risk of serious injury in a motor vehicle crash.
- Booster seats raise a child up so the shoulder belt fits correctly, by lying over the middle of the shoulder and the center of the chest – the strongest parts of a child’s body. The booster seat also positions the lap belt across the child’s upper hips or thighs, not over the stomach. Without a booster, the lap belt can ride up onto the stomach and cause hip, stomach and spinal cord injuries in a crash.
- Using a booster seat with a seat belt instead of using a seat belt alone for a child this age reduces the risk of injury in a crash by 59 percent. Researchers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimate that more than half the children killed in motor vehicles in motor vehicle crashes each year would be alive today if seat belt use and child safety seat use were at 100 percent.
Why is the law important? Most Ohio children are still not in booster seats.
- Motor vehicle traffic remains the leading cause of death for Ohio children aged 4 to 7 years. From 1999 to 2006, at least 34 Ohio children aged 4 to 7 years died as occupants in motor vehicles (Source: Office of Vital Statistics).
- In 2007, Ohio’s booster seat use rate for children aged 4 to 8 years was only 18 percent, one of the lowest in the country. (Source: Partners for Child Passenger Safety). Research studies have found that child restraint laws are very effective at increasing appropriate child restraint usage (Source: CDC Community Guide).
What’s the best booster to buy?
The Injury Prevention Program does not endorse any particular child safety or booster seat. It’s important to properly use one that meets current federal motor vehicle safety standards and fits well in your vehicle. The following resources may be of help in selecting a booster seat:
- American Academy of Pediatrics Family Car Seat Guide (Boosters) Web site has a buyers guide with information on available seats:
- 2008 NHTSA Ease of Use Ratings for Booster Seats:
Information provided courtesy of the Ohio Department of Health.