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Published: Thursday, 10/8/2009

Ohio's new booster-seat law is in force

Ohio's new child booster-seat law went into effect yesterday, but for the next six months violators will receive only warnings.

The new law complements the long-standing child safety seat law. It requires children to be in a safety seat until they are at least4 years old and weigh 40 pounds.

Under the new law, children who have outgrown their safety seats must use a federally approved booster seat until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall or 8 years old.

The new law will substantially improve child safety, said Trooper Shaun Robinson of the Ohio Highway Patrol's Sandusky post.

“A seat belt alone doesn't fit children properly and give them the protection they need,” Trooper Robinson explained. “A booster seat solves that. It raises the child up so the seat belt functions properly. It makes a very big difference when they're wearing a booster seat. I can't say that enough.”

Eighty-nine children aged 4 to 8 were killed from 2002 to 2007 and more than 21,000 were injured in that period, according to Boost Ohio Kids, a group that lobbied for the booster seat requirement.

“With passage of this law, Ohio can expect to see an increase in booster-seat usage and a subsequent decrease in fatalities and injuries,” spokesman Brian Newbacher said.

Full enforcement of the law starts in April, but a violation will be a secondary offense. That means a citation can be written only after a driver is stopped for another reason.

On Saturday, the state patrol and the Perkins Township Police Department will inspect child safety seats and answer questions about the new booster seat requirement from 10 a.m. to noon in the Menards parking lot, 1101 Lakecrest Pkwy., in the township.

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