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Davis Skinner, 5, settled into her booster seat, hugged her stuffed bear to her, and smiled.
"She's used to being in there," said her mother, Jennifer Skinner. "She likes riding in it."
Now that the new Booster Seat Law has gone into effect, all children falling within a certain weight and height category will also have to get used to riding in a booster seat.
Recent legislation, effective July 15, requires that children under 7 years of age and between 40-50 inches tall will have to ride in a booster.
Sharon Rengers, a registered nurse with Kosair Children's Hospital, who is also a Certified Passenger Safety instructor, said she is very much in favor of the new law.
"The booster seat bill is a step in the right direction in making sure that children of all ages are protected while riding in vehicles," she said. "We are happy that this legislation adds protective measures for older children not previously included in the child passenger safety laws."
Captain Tim Lucas, commander of the Kentucky State Highway Safety Branch, said the new law was enacted in hopes of reducing the number of children killed or injured in automobile accidents.
"More children die from motor vehicle crashes than from any single disease," he said. "More children in the United States are killed or crippled in car crashes than from any other cause of injury. Our goal is to save lives, and this law will better protect the children of the Commonwealth."
Lucas added that for the next year, the new law will be phased in gradually. Courtesy warnings only will be given until next June. After that, anyone in violation will have to pay a $30 fine.
As in the case of Davis Skinner, many children have already been riding in booster seats.
According to Kosair Children's Hospital, it's very important not to place a child in a booster seat too early because they must be in the correct position for protection to be at the maximum.
A child needs a booster seat if the shoulder belt crosses his or her face or neck or if the lap belt rides up on the child's stomach. They would also need to be in a booster seat if their legs do not bend over the seat naturally, which would cause slouching. Booster seats raise the child to a safe level so the lap and shoulder belt fits correctly.
Both the Shelbyville police and fire and rescue personnel will assist parents in installing booster seats or with any concerns they may have, said Istvan Kovacs, community resource officer at Shelbyville P.D.
"I've received a lot of calls from folks wanting to make sure they're in compliance," he said.
Skinner, administrative assistant and child safety seat technician for the Shelby County Suburban Fire District, also assists parents with all types of child restraint seats.
She stressed the importance of complying with the new law.
"The purpose of it is to just sit them up so the seat belt does not go across their belly," she said. "In a crash, if the seat belt hits their belly, it'll just destroy their insides."
Skinner is located at Station 1 on Alpine Drive and may be contacted at 633-6648.
Booster Safety Tips
Use the back seat for children under 13.
A child in a booster seat must have a shoulder belt as well as a lap belt.
Always remove shields from booster seats.
Always use your seat belt; children learn from watching parents.
Safety tips by Kentucky State Police