When a child-passenger is involved in a car accident without a booster seat, he or she runs the risk of suffering internal damage, serious spinal injury or worse. Nearly 80 percent of children who were killed in Arizona car crashes in 2009 were not properly restrained in a booster seat. Therefore, the proper use of a booster seat is instrumental in car safety among young children. Over the last several years, lawmakers in Arizona tried to pass booster seat bills that would require children ages 5-7 to be in a booster seat. Recently, Governor Jan Brewer signed such a bill into law.
The law commonly referred to as the booster seat legislation, and previously referred to as House Bill 2154, requires children ages five to seven who are shorter than four feet 10 inches to be in a child-restraint system like a booster seat when riding in a vehicle in Arizona. Before the passage of the law, Arizona was among three states that allowed children as young as five years old to use a seat belt instead of a booster seat. Without the assistance of a booster seat, seat belts, designed for adults, sit too high on a child's abdomen exposing the child to unnecessary risk. In previous attempts, similar bills failed to a pass as lawmakers cited reasons of cost and government intrusion into the decisions of parents.
Debate About Booster Seat Legislation
Convertible booster seats can cost as much as a few hundred dollars, but backless booster seats cost as little as $20. One doctor who provided testimony said she was personally skeptical of the benefit of booster seats and said during testimony a booster seat is "a gloried phone book," but when viewed from a statistical standpoint, the doctor admitted the seats prevent death and reduce injury up to 60 percent. In 2010, five children died in a single vehicle accident because they were not properly restrained in booster seats.
Despite fears about state paternalism, many parents in Arizona thought the booster seat requirement was already law, and according to a AAA poll, the majority of Arizonans supported the law before its passage. The law also had support from hospitals and insurance companies. Even a lawmaker who previously opposed the law sponsored the passing bill after a doctor explained the risk of injury. As said by the legislator in an interview with The Arizona Republic, children are already required to wear seat belts, the law helps make sure they are more safely restrained.
The law goes into effect in August, and parents who fail to abide by the booster seat law will be penalized with a $50 fine. However, the fine can be waived if parents demonstrate they have obtained a booster seat thereafter.
If you or your child has been injured in a car accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.