New Arizona Booster Seat Law

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Starting August 2, Arizona law requires children riding in a motor vehicle to be seated in a child restraint system, such as a booster seat, until their 8th birthday or until they’re at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. AAA Arizona spokesperson Linda Gorman discusses the new law.

Ted Simons: Arizona new booster seat law takes effect tomorrow. Here to tell us what the law requires is Linda Gorman of Triple-A Arizona. Good to see you again.

Linda Gorman: thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: What's going on here?

Linda Gorman: Well, up until tomorrow, actually, the law only protected kids up until the age of five, so of the there was a major loophole in our existing law. The existing law required kids up to the age of five to be in a proper child safety seat. At five they could then transition to an adult seatbelt which we know doesn't properly protect them.

Ted Simons: What is a proper child seat?

Ted Simons: It depends upon the child there are a lot of different seats you can buy. There's an infant seat where it's very, very small kids are in that attaches to a base. There's can be a convertible seat that you can use as the child grows that eventually can turn into a booster seat. There's also a booster seat that you can use for older children.

Ted Simons: As far as booster seats are concerned, how do you install them safely? What are some of the common mistakes?

Linda Gorman: A great thing about a traditional booster seat, there is no installation, you can take it from car to car, to the grandparents' house. The whole purpose is just to sit on the seat, give kids that needed boost so the seatbelt fits them properly in the event of a crash. We do see people who have those traditional types of seats that are actually installed up to 90% of those seats are installed incorrectly.

Ted Simons: How?

Linda Gorman: They are not tight enough. Seats shouldn't move at all back and forth. Many times they are not tight enough, the seat isn't properly fitted for their car. A lot of things that we see. The best thing is to make sure you get it checked by a technician.

Ted Simons: This little girl has the strap going across her neck. That doesn't look -- is that something else to be concerned about?

Linda Gorman: That is. Up until even today that would be okay by the law but you can see the seatbelt comes across her neck. It's not positioned across her chest correctly. It's positioned on her abdomen. If she were to be in a crash, she could be ejected. She could have spinal injuries, internal injuries. Some of the medical professionals we have talked to have seen things like paralysis in kids that are in these adult seat belts.

Ted Simons: This law has been around for a while. Attempts to get this law through. Around for a while. Failed in previous years. Why did it pass now?

Linda Gorman: I think a lot of it has to do with education. We joined 47 other states that are going to be providing proper protection to children. So Triple-A has worked as you said for many years, about five, very tirelessly to pass this. It's about education. Not only legislators but about the public and parents to let them know the state is not providing the right guidance for them. The medical community was extremely important this year. We had great coalition partners in terms of hospitals, trauma centers, doctors, firefighters to help weigh in and say, yes, this law is needed and it will save lives.

Ted Simons: Some of the criticisms in the past included the idea for low income family and care-givers this is a hefty cost. How much does a booster seat cost?

Linda Gorman: You can buy one as simple as $15. Others have all the bells and whistles and cup holders but they cost as little as $15. Get news is there are programs available, low cost and no cost programs, for families who are struggling and who need that assistance.

Ted Simons: I know some of the past criticism was that it's legislative parenting, too much government introduction. How did you get that mind shift?

Linda Gorman: Well, just by educate willing people that we already have an existing law. This isn't a new law on the books. We already have a law that protects kids up to the age of five, however it's not doing its job preventing crashes and injuries in older children. We have a responsibility to give parents the most updated advice, updated guidance and protect those kids until they can transition into that seatbelt.

Ted Simons: What will be the penalty for failure to comply?

Linda Gorman: It's about a $50 fine. The good news is that can be waiveed if you attend a child safety seat class or you show proof when you go to the judge that you have purchased that seat.

Ted Simons: This is correct my if I'm wrong considered a primary offense meaning that police, law enforcement wouldn't have to stop you for something else. If they stop you for this, good enough.

Linda Gorman: Yes, extends the entire child passenger law as primary. So the existing one is primary. Now it just extends that up to the age of eight or four feet nine inches.

Ted Simons: Bottom line, will it make that much of a difference considering some folks still seem to think adult seat belts are good enough?

Linda Gorman: Unfortunately they are not. If you look at the data, all of the deaths in Arizona in 2010 between that age group, that vulnerable age group from five to eight, all of them were improperly restrained. We do know that the use of a proper child safety seat prevents fatalities by as much as 71%. So it saves lives, it saves lives in 47 other states. We're looking forward to the same benefits.

Ted Simons: All right, very good to have you here.

Linda Gorman:Spokesperson, AAA Arizona;

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