New Law in New York State Expands Child Safety Seat Requirements Attorney Paul Dansker Addresses Injury Prevention through Legislation

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A new law went to effect in November 2009 requiring all children under eight years of age to sit in a safety seat when riding in an automobile. The previous law had required the use of age- and size-appropriate seats until a child reached his or her seventh birthday.

While parents with children in elementary school may feel uncomfortable enforcing a safety seat rule, especially if their children put up a fuss, putting their children in booster seats can make a big difference in protecting them as passengers.

A new law went to effect in November 2009 requiring all children under eight years of age to sit in a safety seat when riding in an automobile. The previous law had required the use of age- and size-appropriate seats until a child reached his or her seventh birthday.

“While parents with children in elementary school may feel uncomfortable enforcing a safety seat rule, especially if their children put up a fuss, putting their children in booster seats can make a big difference in protecting them as passengers,” said Paul Dansker, Esq., a New York City-based personal injury attorney.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) consistently has found that about half the children between the ages of four and seven who are killed in car accidents are unrestrained. Among younger children who account for accident fatalities, about one-third are not restrained,” he added.

The NHTSA estimates that proper seats can reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers and preschoolers.

The New York State law specifies the type of restraint system required for children of different ages. All children under the age of four must sit in a federally-approved car seat when riding in a motor vehicle, including a school bus.

Infants should be placed in a rear-facing infant seat in the back seat until they reach about 27 inches and up to 20 pounds. Convertible seats can be used as either rear-facing infant seats or front-facing toddler seats. Seats that only face forward are designed for children who weigh at least 20 pounds. Some models can be converted into a booster seat for children who meet the weight guidelines.

All children between the ages of four and six, and younger children who weigh over 40 pounds, should use a booster seat, harness or safety seat in combination with the car’s lap and shoulder belt, as long as they meet the height and weight recommendations of the manufacturer. These laws apply to all children being transported in a private motor vehicle, not just one’s own children. Booster seats are not required on school buses.

“Even with this new and more stringent law, we may not be going far enough to protect our child passengers,” said Dansker. “A parent or adult driver is not required to put a child in a booster seat once he or she reaches 4 feet 9 inches, 100 pounds, or eight years of age. Yet many eight-year-olds are not yet tall or heavy enough to sit in a standard seat with a safety belt that fits properly and offers enough protection in the event of an accident.”

“Simple safety measures such as car and booster seats go a long way to help prevent injury and fatal injury to children in the event of an accident,” noted Dansker. “Adults who drive with children in the car should take just a small amount of time to shop for and properly install the right equipment for their passengers.”

To find a child safety event or a list of permanent fitting stations, visit http://www.safeny.com.

Dansker & Aspromonte Associates is located at 30 Vesey Street, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10007. For more information, call (212) 732-2929 or visit http://www.dandalaw.com.

About Dansker & Aspromonte Associates: Dansker & Aspromonte Associates is a New York City personal injury law firm specializing in serious brain injuries; medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, falls, construction accidents, municipal liability, injuries to children and more. The firm has represented thousands of clients and obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for them over the last 30 years.

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Lauren B. Schiffman
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