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Giving kids a boost.

The use of child safety seats has lowered infant deaths by 71 percent and toddler deaths by 54 percent from 1988 to 1994, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Still, car crashes are the leading cause of death among children.

All states and the District of Columbia require car seats. Each state, however, has different requirements. For the past decade, child safety seat requirements have been divided into three stages: infants using rear-facing seats, toddlers using forward-facing seats, and children using booster seats.

No state currently requires children over age 1 to ride in a rear-facing seat, but state regulations may soon be changing. A new guideline by the American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to keep children in rear-facing seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. Rear-facing seats best protect the head, neck and torso in a front-on crash.

The academy also advises using booster seats until children are 4 feet 9 inches tall and between 8 and 12 years old. Booster seats adjust the car's seat belt to best fit a child's size--across the upper thighs, shoulder and chest rather than the stomach, neck or face.

After children have graduated from booster seats to seat belts, they should remain in the back seat through age 12, according to the CDC.

Forty-seven states and Washington, D.C., require children to be secured in a booster seat until they reach a certain age. Arizona, Florida, South Dakota and Puerto Rico do not have a specific booster seat law. Legislation died at the close of this year's session in the Florida House Transportation and Highway Safety Subcommittee that would have required booster seats for children 4 to 7 years old who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches.

THE INS AND OUTS OF SAFETY SEATS

The age at which children are required to be in child restraint or booster seats, although there are state exceptions and variations based on weight, height and seat placement in the vehicle.

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Title Annotation:TRENDS AND TRANSITIONS; booster seats for children
Publication:State Legislatures
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2011
Words:341
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