Don't Say Bye-Bye to Booster Seats Yet

Proposal requiring kids to be strapped in until age 8 expected to become law

Hang onto those booster seats -- you're going to need them for your kids a while longer.

Current Texas law requires booster seats for children younger than 5 and shorter than 3 feet tall. But a proposed law that is now expected to win final approval will require children to ride in booster seats until their eighth birthday or until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall.

"I think it's a good law," said Shane Peterman, the father of 1-year-old Isabella.

Isabella's mother, Erica, said she agrees with the measure if it "cuts down on injuries."

"This car seat, actually, when we bought it, it -- all of this breaks down, and this becomes the booster seat," she said. "So I guess that's not that big of a deal."

Advocacy group Safe Kids USA said child safety seats reduce the risk of injury by 50 percent for children ages 4 to 7 years old.

State Rep. Allen Vaught, of Dallas, sponsored the bill, which is now expected on the governor's desk next week, after final votes in the Texas House and Senate.

Children's Medical Center of Dallas supports the bill.

If Gov. Rick Perry signs it as expected, fines would start at $25 in June 2010 and then jump up to $250. The money would be used to buy booster seats for low-income families.

State Farm Insurance said 44 other states already have similar laws on the books.

"We have seen many claims come in where kids have been involved in accidents and had injuries that could have been prevented with a booster seat," said Evelyn Nishino, State Farm spokeswoman.

Children's Medical Center of Dallas sells booster seats for less than $50, and State Farm will be giving a limited number of booster seats away this weekend during a child safety-seat inspection at the MLK Rec Center at 2922 MLK Drive in Dallas.

The free educational event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The limited number of free booster seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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