Atlanta (March 21, 2011)—Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Safe Kids Georgia are supporting proposed legislation that will help keep Georgia’s children safe. They are working closely with lawmakers in an effort to protect 6 and 7 year olds on the road.
While a seat belt is better than no restraint at all, 6 to 8 year olds are transitioning into seat belts too soon. House Bill 279, sponsored by Representative Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) and Senate Bill 88, sponsored by Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) protects children ages 6 to 8 years old whose height and weight puts them at risk for a type of injury called Lap/Seat Belt Complex. When children wearing only a seat or lap belt are involved in a motor vehicle crash, they are much more likely to suffer from this type of injury, which includes fractures and severe bruising of abdominal organs. These children are also at greater risk of sliding under the lap belt, which in turn can lead to serious injuries of the of solid organs, such as the liver, spleen and pancreas.
The legislation seeks to prevent these injuries and fatalities by requiring children up to age 8 to be secured in a booster seat while inside a moving vehicle.
A child is exempted from the law if one of the following is true:
- He is at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall.
- He has a written statement from a physician for a medical condition.
- He weighs 40 pounds or more, and the available lap and shoulder belts are being used to properly restrain other children.
- He weighs 40 pounds or more, and the vehicle is not equipped with both lap and shoulder belts.
Seat belts are made for adult bodies. However, a booster seat is a positioning device that helps elevate a child to the proper height. A recent study by the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that using booster seats lowers injury risk by 59 percent compared with belts alone.
National recommendations say a child should remain in a booster seat until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall. Most children do not start to reach 4 feet, 9 inches tall until they are 8 years old.
Children’s has seen a lower crash injury rate with children 4 to 6 years of age – compared to 6 to 8 year olds. Between 2006–2010, approximately 95 percent of the patients seen for injuries resulting from a motor vehicle crash between ages 6 and 8 were improperly restrained.
“At Children’s, we believe, and research has shown, that kids should be treated differently than adults when receiving medical care. Motor vehicles, intended for the transport of all ages, should be thought of no differently when it comes to protecting kids in the event of a crash. Simply put, safety belts are not made to fit all ages and kids should be in booster seats until their 8th birthday.” said Jim Fortenberry, M.D., Pediatrician in Chief, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
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About Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to enhancing the lives of children through excellence in patient care, research and education. Managing more than half a million patient visits annually at three hospitals and 16 neighborhood locations, Children’s is one of the largest clinical care providers for children in the country. Children’s offers access to more than 30 pediatric specialties and is ranked among the top children’s hospitals by Parents magazine and U.S.News & World Report. With generous philanthropic and volunteer support, Children’s has made an impact in the lives of children in Georgia, the United States and throughout the world.