Marlyand’s Child Booster Seat Law, which seeks to close a gap in child passenger safety, took effect on Oct. 1.
The old law required children to ride in a car safety seat until age 4 and 40 pounds; after that threshold, they would wear seat belts, just as adults.
However, standard seats are designed for larger people and could cause injury to young children.
“The lap belt can cut across the soft part of the belly,” said Del. Bill Bronrott (D-16) a sponsor of the law. “The shoulder belt can cut across the neck.”
Under this new law, children who have outgrown their child seats will be required to sit in belt-positioning booster seats until they reach the age of 6.
“We have to do everything we can to make sure that every child is safe, every ride,” said Bronrott.
Bronrott said that the seats can be purchased for as little as $30, but can range up to $75 or more.
The law was enacted by the 2002 General Assembly. It was cross-filed in the Senate by Sen. Jennie Forehand (D-17).
The delay in enactment was part of the negotiation process in passing the law. “I agreed to a request to delay it so that we could give parents a time to be educated about it,” Bronrott said.
Violators can be fined $25, but Bronrott said that bill’s focus is not about the fine. “This is about educating parents,” he said. “It’s about how important it is to protect children.”