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Limited compliance impact for older kids.

Laws that require increasingly older kids to sit in car safety seats appear to have limited impact, according to research appearing in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Those parents who already were buckling up kids appear most likely to switch to safety seats, leaving the same number of kids unrestrained.

"These laws can be very appealing for legislators to pass, but our research calls into question their value," says lead author Lauren Jones. "Our study suggests that safety-conscious parents are likely to do what makes their child the safest, but these laws don't have much effect on other parents."

Furthermore, higher fines (as much as $500) do not appear to make much difference in raising the likelihood parents and other drivers comply with the laws.

In the last four decades, laws throughout the U.S. steadily have increased mandatory safety seat restraint ages. In the 1980s and 1990s, safety seat laws were the norm for kids up to age two--or, at most, age three. By 2012, the average upper-age requirement was six years old.

About 17% of children seven years old and younger were in car safety seats before new laws expanded age requirements. That percentage jumped to almost half after stricter laws took effect, but the percentage of unrestrained children--those with neither a seat belt on nor strapped into a car seat--barely moved.

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Title Annotation:Seat Belt Laws
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Aug 1, 2017
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