December 14, 2008
Booster seats

The Texas Lege is going to take another crack at passing a bill to require booster seats in cars for children over the age of 3.

[In November], Texas was singled out by the National Transportation Safety Board as one of seven states lacking a booster seat law.

The agency, which investigates transportation accidents, cited a booster seat law as one of the five things it would like states to either adopt or improve in 2009.

"We're urging states to take a number of actions to reduce the number of crashes and the number of deaths and injuries," NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said.

Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia require use of booster seats, although only 21 states and D.C. require them up through age 7. In Texas, only children who are younger than 5 and shorter than 36 inches are required to be secured properly in child-passenger safety seats.


Without a booster seat, a seat belt can injure a child through choking or causing abdominal injuries during a crash.

The agency recommended that Texas and the other six states -- Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, Ohio and South Dakota -- pass laws that provide protection for children over age 3, in the form of a booster seat.

State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, wrote such a bill in 2007, but it died in the Texas House of Representatives because no action was taken on it before the legislative session ended. She has refiled the bill for the 2009 session.

I can tell you from my daily experience of strapping Olivia into the car that a seat belt wouldn't do her much good if she weren't in a booster seat. Without the booster, the seat belt would come across her neck, which would be dangerous to her if it were needed; more likely, she'd simply lift it over her head, leaving her with only the lap portion of the seat belt, because it was so uncomfortable. With the booster, the seat belt comes across her sternum like it's supposed to. According to the PSAs you hear on 89.7 KACC, she should use the booster seat till she's something like four foot six.

I think this is well-intentioned and a good idea. The fact that there was no opponent to the concept quoted suggests that perhaps it doesn't have any formal opposition. In which case, maybe this time it won't be a victim of inertia, though with all the drama in the House right now, I wouldn't count on that.

UPDATE: Grits has a different view of this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 14, 2008 to That's our Lege
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