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Booster Seat Law Linked to Reduction in Injuries

In a study released this week, researchers found that children aged 4, 5 and 6 were at significantly lower risk of injury in a car accident following the implementation of New York’s upgraded child restraint law. The “booster seat law” required children to be in an appropriate child safety restraint system until age 7 (updated in 2009 to age 8).

The study is the first to compare accident injury statistics before and after the implementation of such a law. Using data collected by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the researchers looked at both compliance and injury rates.

After the law went into effect in March, 2005, there was a 72 percent increase in the use of booster seats and a dramatic 18 percent decrease in the number of 4- to 6-year-olds injured in car accidents. In comparison, New York has long required car seats for children under 4, and, during the study period, there was no change in the injury rate for that population.

Other findings of note were a 21 percent decrease in the visible injury rate and an 8 percent decrease in fatal and incapacitating injuries.

The study’s authors hope the data will be used to influence both drivers of young children and policymakers, noting that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children aged 4 to 6. In 2007, of the 719 deaths in that age group attributed to “unintentional injury,” 39.9 percent were caused by motor vehicle accidents. The next largest category was drowning, at 17.9 percent.

Florida is one of only 3 states that have no booster seat law. The state does require rear-facing car seats for children 3 and under.

Resource: Pediatrics “Effects of Upgraded Child Restraint Law Designed to Increase Booster Seat Use in New York” 8/9/10

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