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Safe Kids Canada applauds Ontario Minister for introducing booster seat bill aimed at reducing injuries among young children

 December 16, 2002  TORONTO -  Safe Kids Canada, the national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick Children, believes Ontario’s introduction of a bill requiring the use of booster seats for children over 40 lbs. is a progressive step towards reducing the leading cause of severe injury and death among young school-aged children. 

The bill, introduced on Friday by Ontario Minister of Transportation, Norm Sterling, recognizes that seat belts are not designed to fit young children. If a child is wearing just a seat belt, the lap belt could ride up too high onto the child's abdomen in a crash, causing serious abdominal and spinal cord injuries. Instead, the use of booster seats positions the seat belt safely over the child's body to maximize protection in the event of a collision. Booster seats also reduce the likelihood that a child will be ejected from a vehicle in a roll-over crash.

 “The majority of these injuries can actually be prevented and booster seat legislation addresses a major cause of devastating injury for children,” says Dr. Andrew Howard, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at The Hospital for Sick Children and lead researcher on a four-year trauma study detailing the mechanisms of injury among children in motor vehicle collisions. “If the use of booster seats becomes as common as seat belts for adults and car seats for younger children, we will remove a major cause of injury, disability and death.”

The booster seat measure comes on the heels of a report by the Chief Medical Officer of Health recommending that the province’s road safety legislation “should optimize passenger safety for all ages.” The proposed law will require drivers to ensure that booster seats are used for children who weigh between 18 to 27 kilograms or 40 to 60 lbs. and whose height, while seated, is less than 63 centimeters or 25 inches.  Currently, legislation only requires car seat use up to 40lbs. and does not specify booster seats. 

Ontario’s proposed legislation is progressive because it outlines both a weight and height requirement before children should graduate to seat belts. However, all children will not necessarily fit the adult seat belt system safely at 60 lbs.  Transport Canada certifies booster seats that can be used with children who weigh between 40 and 100 lbs.  Most booster seats in Canada are certified for use up to 80 lbs. Quebec has passed a law, effective October 2003, outlining that children must be in a car or booster seat until they reach sitting height of 63 centimeters.

“This is an important bill that when passed will have a positive impact on the safety of young children.  Enforcement and education campaigns will promote the increased use of booster seats,” said Rita Mezei, Public Policy and Advocacy Specialist, at Safe Kids Canada.  “We know that several other provinces are considering similar legislation.  With Ontario and Quebec now leading the way, we hope that others will quickly follow”. 

All children who weigh more than 40 lbs. should use a booster seat. When using a booster seat, it is important that the vehicle seat back or booster seat gives your child proper head and neck support. According to Safe Kids Canada, a child fits the seat belt system safely if you can answer yes to all of the following questions:

1)      Does the lap belt fit as low as possible, touching the child’s thighs and not over the tummy?

2)      Does the shoulder belt cross the child’s body across the middle of the chest between the neck and arm?

3)      Can the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?

4)      Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?

5)      Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

 

For more information on booster seat and car seat use, please contact Safe Kids Canada at www.safekidscanda.ca or 1-888-SAFE TIPS (723-3847).  Safe Kids Canada is the national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick Children. 

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Data Show Older Children Dying More Frequently, Not Buckling Up in Car Crashes, Says AAA Chicago

 Car Riding Rules for Tots and Teens from Club Mom - Safety issues you may not have considered before

National SAFE KIDS Campaign to Open 30 New Child Safety Seat Inspection Stations Across the Country as Data Reveals Incorrect Use of Child Safety Seats Still a Major Problem

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