Cop Talk - The 'new' seat belt lawPeople are talking about the "new" seat belt law and car seat law and want to know if these are really new laws, or have they just been updated. Many times, the changes made to the seat belt law and car seat law are referred to as new laws. Having said that, these really aren't new laws, but they were changed and updated.
By: By Alexandria Police Officer Jim Gripne, Alexandria Echo Press
People are talking about the "new" seat belt law and car seat law and want to know if these are really new laws, or have they just been updated.
Many times, the changes made to the seat belt law and car seat law are referred to as new laws. Having said that, these really aren't new laws, but they were changed and updated. With that in mind, let's look at these laws a little closer and try to address questions and concerns about them.
The way the seat belt law was written in the past, a driver had to be stopped for a moving violation, like running a stop sign, speeding or many other offenses that are referred to as moving violations. At that time, anyone in the front seat and anyone younger than 11 years old, in any seat, had to wear a seat belt.
The law was changed, making not wearing a seat belt a primary offense. This means a vehicle can be stopped and the driver can be cited for not wearing their seat belt. This was expanded to include any seat in the vehicle. Now, every occupant in the front and back seats of vehicles have to wear seat belts, regardless of age. As a result, a peace officer no longer needs to have a moving violation occur before they can stop and issue a seat belt citation.
Also, the way the car seat law was written in the past, a child had to be in a child restraint until they were 4 years old. That law was also changed, expanding how long a child must use a child restraint. The law now requires a child use some sort of child restraint until he/she is 4' 9" tall or 8 years old, whichever comes first.
One of the biggest reasons the child seat law was expanded is to reduce the number of injuries to children when the vehicles they are in are involved in motor vehicle crashes. Seat belts were not sitting properly on children, and as a result, they were being injured more. With a belt positioning booster, seat belts are fitting properly on children and therefore, the number of injuries to children in cars that are involved in crashes are reducing.
Another common question is, "Which child seat is best for my child?" There is no easy answer to that, and there is no "one seat fits all." The best answer to that question is, the one that fits your child and he/she will use and use properly every time.
Child passenger safety is an important and detailed topic. There are many things to consider and that makes it difficult to cover all the aspects in a newspaper article.
The basics are listed here. However, the Alexandria Police Department has a child passenger safety technician who is happy to answer any questions about child passenger safety and is also available to check a car seat installation or assist with a car seat installation. To speak with our technician, call the Alexandria Police Department at (320) 763-6631 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions you would like answered in "Cop Talk, Ask the Alexandria Police Department," do not hesitate to e-mail email@example.com or call (320) 763-6631.
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The Alexandria Police Department and the Echo Press have teamed together to create “Cop Talk, Ask the Alexandria Police Department.” Each article will feature an answer to a question from a reader, a safety tip or some timely topic. If you have a question about crime prevention or safety, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.