New child restraint safety laws to take effect in August

Stacey Fontenot
Thursday, June 6, 2019
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New laws regarding the use of child restraints will soon take effect following the enactment of Louisiana Senate Bill 76.

The new laws will begin being enforced in August 2019.

“I want all children to be safely secured in the vehicle when traveling,” said Sheriff Ivy Woods. “Deputies are trained to monitor traffic and observe when children are not properly restrained in the approved child safety seats and booster seats.”

The new bill increased the age of children relative to both front-facing and rear-facing seats. Manufacturer’s weight and height limits must be obeyed.

Children under the age of two will be restrained in a rear-facing child safety seat.

A child who has outgrown their rear-facing seat and is at least two years of age must be restrained in a forward-facing restraint system with an internal harness.

At the age of four, once outgrowing the forward-facing seat, the child is allowed to use a belt positioning child booster seat, ensuring the lap-shoulder belt secures the seat properly.

Children nine years of age who have become too mature for the booster may use the adult safety belt but drivers must make sure the belt remains fastened correctly around the child’d body. The lap belt must be adjusted to properly fit. The adult belt fits correctly when the child can lean back against the seat with the knees bending over the edge of the vehicle seat. The belt should fit snugly across the thighs and lower hips, not the abdomen. The shoulder strap should cross the center of the chest, not the neck.

Any child younger than 13 years of age must be in the rear seat of the vehicle when available and must wear the seatbelt properly.

According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, seat selection and direction in which the child’s seat is positioned are the only two elements to minimizing the risks should an accident occur.

As part of the commission’s Buckle Up Louisiana Campaign, phone lines are available to answer questions regarding the upgrades that will soon be enforced.

The number to call is (504) 702-2264.

Experts advise drivers that it is important to read the information provided on child safety seat labels and the vehicle’s instruction manual regarding installation of the seats.

Woods reminds that adults should always wear seat belts when traveling on roadways to arrive safely at their destinations.

“It’s the law and it saves lives,” he said.