RBC I Aug. 1 marked the one-year anniversary of the expanded child passenger safety law in Colorado, which means law enforcement will start pulling over and giving $82 citations to drivers transporting children under age 8 who are not in a car seat or booster seat. Previously, the law only required child safety seats for children under age 6.The state conducted a yearlong education period to inform parents and caregivers about the change in the law and reinforce the importance of properly securing children to prevent serious injuries and help save lives. From 2006-2010, 20 kids, ages 4 through 7, died in traffic crashes in Colorado, and 11 (55 percent) of them were unrestrained or improperly restrained.“Children ages 4 to 7 who use booster seats are 45 percent less likely to be injured in a crash compared to children who are restrained only by seat belts,” said Col. James Wolfinbarger, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Many parents mistakenly believe that a seat belt provides enough protection for their older child in a crash,” said Wolfinbarger. “A booster seat is a safer option because it lifts the child up so that the lap belt rests across hip bones to protect internal organs, and it positions the shoulder strap so it rests across the collar bone instead of on the neck or falling off the shoulder.”Parents who need help to determine the safest option for their child or baby can visit one of CSP Team Colorado’s 140 car seat fit stations across the state. The fit stations provide free assistance and car seat checks conducted by trained child passenger safety technicians. For parents facing financial hardship, some car seat fit stations provide car seats and booster seats at a reduced price or for a small donation. Parents can find the fit station closest to them by visiting the newly revamped www.carseatscolorado.com or by calling toll free (877)LUV-TOTS or (303)239-4625 in Metro Denver.In addition to expanding the use of booster seats, the revised law gives parents more flexibility in choosing the best safety seat for their child or baby, as long as they adhere to the upper weight and height limits set by the seat’s manufacturer and follow installation instructions. The law also has the following minimum requirements:n Babies under 1 year old and less than 20 pounds must ride in a rear-facing car seat and only in the back seat of the vehicle.n Once babies reach their first birthday and weigh at least 20 pounds, the law gives them the option of using a front-facing car seat. Rear-facing car seats are still allowed by law and safety experts recommend that parents continue using them to the upper weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer because it provides the most protection.n Children ages 4, 5, 6, and 7 must continue to be protected in a child safety restraint. For most kids in this age group that means a booster seat but experts recommend that children remain in a forward-facing car seat longer if the upper weight limit of the seat allows it (usually 40-50 pounds).n When a child turns 8, the law allows them to use a vehicle seat belt. But for the best protection, safety experts recommend that kids continue to use a booster seat until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall, which half of children will not reach until they are 11 years old.n The minimum fine is $82 per violation. All child passenger safety violations are primary enforcement.
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