Arizona's new booster seat law explained

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- It’s a travel alert for parents and anyone driving with children.

Starting today, Arizona motorists traveling with a child between the ages of 5 and 7, and shorter than 4 feet 9inches tall are required to seat them in a child-restraint system, typically a booster seat.

According to AAA, each year hundreds of children are injured and killed on Arizona’s roadways as a result of improper use of a safety seat, or no use of a safety seat at all. Workers there say in Arizona in 2010, all of the 5- to 8-year-olds who were killed in car crashes died because they were not properly restrained.

Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the proper use of a safety seat can reduce a child’s fatality risk by up to 71 percent.

A booster seat generally runs about $20 and are widely available.

On "Good Morning! Arizona" Thursday, Linda Gorman of AAA Arizona talked about how to choose and use a booster seat.  Parents can buy one with or without a back.  If the vehicle has low seat backs or does not have any head restraints, a high back booster provides whiplash protection for your child.

A booster seat is not fastened or tied down.  It does not require any special installation.  Parents simply place the seat in the back, a child sits on it, then buckles in.  The booster raises the child up to a height that makes the seat belt more effective. 

Once a child is in the booster seat, the seat belt should fit across the upper thighs and not ride up onto the tummy. The shoulder belt should comfortably sit on the child's shoulder and not fall off onto the arm or cross the neck.

AAA says anyone can call their traffic safety educator for guidance on selecting the right seat at 602-241-2945.

This updated law makes not using a booster seat a primary offense.  That means you can be pulled over just for violating this statute.  It carries a fine of $50.

From the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety:

Key Provisions of HB2154 include:·

*Requires the operator of a motor vehicle to require each passenger who is at least five years of age, but under eight years of age, and who is not more than four feet nine inches tall to be restrained in a child restraint system.

*Requires a law enforcement office who stops a vehicle in apparent violation of this section to determine from the drive the age and height of the child in the vehicle and to assess whether the child in the vehicle should be in a child restraint system.

*Defines child restraint system as an add-on child restraint system, a built in child restraint system, a factory-installed built in child restraint system, a rear facing child restraint system or a booster seat as defined in federal regulations.

*Specifies that this section does not apply to a person who operates an authorized emergency vehicle that is transporting a child for medical care.