Starting on Friday, July 1st, Georgia law will require children under 8 to be properly secured in an approved car seat or booster seat while riding in cars, vans, SUV’s and pickup trucks. In May, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 88, which was pushed by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Safe Kids Georgia. The previous law required children under the age of 6 to be restrained in a child safety seat.
Exemptions in the new law are the same as those in the previous law. A child is exempt from this law if he or she: is at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall, has a written statement from a physician for a medical condition, weighs 40 pounds or more and the available lap and shoulder belts are being used to properly restrain other children, or if the child weighs 40 pounds or more and the vehicle is not equipped with both lap and shoulder belts.
According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, in 2008, a total of 14,154 children between the ages of 6 and 8 were involved in motor vehicle crash in Georgia. Of those children, there were 1,755 injuries and 10 fatalities. Only 12% of these children were reported to be using a restraint such as a booster seat or child safety seat. In the three-year period from 2005 to 2007, hospitalization charges for 248 children who were hospitalized due to motor vehicle traffic related injuries were about $7 million, not including emergency room visits. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data shows motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14. Studies reveal that proper use of child safety seats reduces the risk of a motor vehicle injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers.
If a driver is found to be in violation of the new car seat laws, fines will be imposed and points assessed against the violator’s license. A first conviction carries a fine of $50 and one point against the license. Second and subsequent convictions carry fines of $100 and two points assessed. Child passenger safety (CPS) inspections are offered throughout the country. To assure that you are compliant, find the closest location to you by visiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.
Children that are not properly restrained are more susceptible to serious injuries or death in an automobile accident. These new laws aim to protect Georgia’s future through the wellbeing of its children, and are a strong step in the direction of improved automobile safety. If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, Atlanta automobile attorneys will review your case for free and determine if you are eligible to pursue legal recourse and compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Contact us today for a risk-free, no-cost case evaluation.