LA PLATA, Md. (June 26, 2008)—New child passenger safety laws will become effective on June 30. The new law requires every child younger than eight years old to ride in a booster seat or other appropriate child safety seat unless the child is taller than 4 feet 9 inches or weighs more than 65 pounds.
The previous law required children to use safety seats until they reached six years of age and weighed 40 pounds.
Just as everyone in a vehicle should be properly restrained, Marylands child passenger safety law also requires that children between the ages of eight and 16 who are not secured in car seats be secured in the vehicles seatbelt.
The new law will help protect older children who are not yet ready for adult seatbelts, said Sheriff Rex Coffey. Even at six years old and a weight of 40 pounds, most children are not tall enough for adult seatbelts to fit properly.
Proper fit for a seatbelt means the lap-shoulder belt fits low on the childs hips and across the mid-chest. If the belt fits across the childs neck or stomach, the child could be injured in the event of a crash. Additionally, although it is not required by law, children younger than 13 years old should ride in the backseat of the vehicle, where it is safest according to information provided by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Booster seats are generally the least expensive type of safety seat. For families who cannot afford to purchase a safety seat, there are several loaner programs operating throughout Maryland. For more information about the loaner programs or the child safety seat law, call Maryland Kids in Safety Seats at 1-800-370-SEAT or visit http://www.mdkiss.org/ .
The Charles County Sheriffs Office offers free child safety seat inspections and installation education. This service is offered by appointment to citizens of Charles County. To schedule an appointment, call Cpl. Robert Taylor at 301-609-6238 or e-mail taylorr (at) ccso.us.