Texas Boosts Age for Car Seats

New law keeps kids strapped in until age 8, unless they're tall

Texas children will be spending an extra three years in car seats beginning Sept. 1, unless they hit a big growth spurt.

A new state law requires children younger than 8 to ride in safety seats. Children who are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall are exempt from the requirement.

The law had Nicole McGovern, the mother of five young children, shopping for new car seats this week.

"It's a small price to pay" she said.

In one week, her 6-year-old son will need to be in a car seat. But McGovern said she doesn't mind the new law.

"It's worth it for kids' safety", she said.

Claudia Romo, of Children's Medical Center in Dallas, said children riding in vehicles will now be "a lot safer." She and others at Children's Medical Center fought hard for the new law.

"The majority of the children that we were seeing that were admitted at the highest rates with the highest injuries were kids that were 4 to 8 years old," she said.

Police also predict the new law will save lives.

"A child that's in a car seat, first of all, and secured properly is going to fare much better in a crash of any type, especially a rollover," said Officer Raymon Cannon, of the Colleyville Police Department.

Fines can range from $25 for the first offense up to $250 for the second. But even though the law goes into effect Sept. 1, police will only write warnings until June 1 of next year. 

Hospitals, police departments and other organizations across North Texas are helping to get out word about the law out to parents, demonstrating how to properly use the car seats at free safety seat inspections.

"What a booster seat does is, it actually causes the seat belt to go over their shoulder correctly and fit over their shoulder blade," said safety technician Debbie Childs.

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