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Child Passenger Safety Week Highlights New Booster Seat Law for Children until Their 8th Birthday

In observance of National Child Passenger Safety Week (September 12-18, 2009) the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is highlighting the new booster seat law that follows the best practices recommended by safety experts for the safe transport of children.

“For the safety of all passengers, we want to remind parents and caregivers just how important it is to properly restrain a child while traveling in a motor vehicle,” said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. “The goal is to decrease injuries and deaths to our children riding in our motor vehicles. If caregivers buckle up and children are properly restrained, motor vehicle injuries and fatalities will be greatly reduced.”

The new law that went into effect on July 1, 2009 states that children up to their eighth birthday, unless they are 4’9” (57 inches) tall or 80 pounds in weight, must ride in appropriate child restraint seats. The previous law required that children up to their seventh birthday had to ride in the appropriate child restraint seat, unless they were 54 inches in height or 80 pounds in weight.

In enacting this change in the law, the Rhode Island General Assembly followed the safety recommendations of the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for transporting children. Thanks to the law’s passage by the July 1, 2009, deadline, Rhode Island received over $92,000 which will be utilized this year to purchase booster seats, disseminate information about the new law, conduct car seat checks, and train Child Passenger Safety technicians. Rhode Island joins at least 19 other states in passing this law, including our New England neighbors of Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont.

National Child Passenger Safety Week is designed to bring attention to the importance of properly securing all children in appropriate child safety seats, booster seats, or seat belts – every trip, every time. From 1975 through 2007, an estimated 8,709 lives were saved by child restraints (child safety seats or seat belts).



Effective July 1, 2009: - Children up to their eighth birthday, unless they are four feet, nine inches (57 inches) tall or 80 pounds in weight, must ride in appropriate child restraints. (The former requirements were up to the seventh birthday, less than 54 inches in height with the same 80 pound weight exemption.) o As before, infants must ride in REAR-facing child restraints to at least one year of age and 20 pounds. (It is best to keep them rear facing up to the maximum weight of the seat as listed by the manufacturer for rear facing use, which may exceed 20 pounds.) o Once a child has exceeded the maximum weight limit of a child safety seat (FORWARD facing), booster seats must be used for children from age four to their eighth birthday, unless they are four feet, nine inches tall (57 inches) or weigh 80 pounds. Any child over age 8 or 57 inches or 80 pounds in weight must wear a seatbelt, either with or without a booster seat. o In Rhode Island, there is a primary law (i.e., vehicle may be stopped without any other violation) if anyone under the age of 18 is not properly restrained. The driver of the vehicle is responsible to ensure that all passengers are properly restrained and for any violations.

As always, children under age 8 must be properly restrained in the back seat, where practical to do so, unless the number of children being transported exceeds the number of rear-seating positions. (In such instances, the oldest child should sit in the front with the seat adjusted as far back as possible.) A rear-facing child safety seat may NEVER be positioned in a front seating position in front of an active air bag.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Department of Transportation
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  • Release date: 09-11-2009

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