JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE OF CHILD RESTRAINT SYSTEMS.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Rep. Brenda L. Kupchick, 132nd Dist.
Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria, 105th Dist.
Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, 133rd Dist.
REASONS FOR BILL:
To make certain requirements, correlated with a specific age range, in the usage of safety restrain devices and car seats with children between the ages of 2 & 8 years and to eliminate the use of rear facing devices in the front seat of cars equipped with side airbags.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Commissioner, Raul Pino, Department of Public Health-
The DPH supports the proper use of child safety restraints and our recommendations are in line with CDC guidelines. DPH will continue to review the recommendation sin the bill as they move forward to ensure the language reflects the best practices. Statistics show that only 20% of car seats are installed properly.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital-
Nation-wide 73% of car seats are installed improperly or misused, supporting the need for this bill. Children 1-2 are 5x safe in side impact crashed when in a rear facing seat. Children's head are disproportionately larger than their bodies compared to adults so in a frontal collision their heads are violently thrown forward when forward facing. There are misconceptions that a child can no longer fit in a rear facing seat when a child's legs are crossed or hanging over the sides of the seat, as well as the notion that a tall child legs might be injured sitting rear facing vs forward facing. For children under 5 it is crucial to secure them in a 5 point harness system as their maturity level and body structures are not prepared to sit with only a lap and shoulder belt. Statistics show children are transitioning to a booster seat too soon or not at all. Currently California, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have all updated their laws to require children sit in a rear facing seat until at least 2 years of age. There is a documented 17% decrease in death and serious injuries int eh five state that passed legislation to increase the required age for Child Safety Restraint Systems (CSRS).
Program Coordinator, Luis Rivera, Connecticut Children's Medical Center-
Child passenger safety has long been a priority of ours, the recommendations in this bill are backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This bill would Connecticut's law in line with current recommendation for child passenger safety and serve to improve the safety of child passengers.
Representative, Brenda Kupchik,
This language has been supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Yale New Haven Children's Hospital emergency medical services, AAA, police and fire departments across the State and the Injury Free Coalition for Kids.
CONNECTICUT POLICE CHIEF ASSOCIATION-
The increased requirements for car seats use will enhance safety of children and will demonstrate Connecticut's commitment to highway safety and protection of children.
Manager-Traffic Safety Programs, Diana Dias, AAA-
Because of the specific language of this bill, it will strengthen the state's existing child passenger safety laws requiring the usage of rear facing seats, booster seats, five point safety restraints and combinations of safety devices based on a child's age and size.
Surveys have found that more than 7 in 10 respondents believe CT's existing child passenger seat law should be strengthened. The proposed language reflects similar laws in 23 other states including Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Coordinator, Cathleen Kellett, Griffin Hospital-
As a child passenger safety technician I have seen many families with children over the age of 7 and over 60 pounds but he seatbelt does not fit them properly. Many families come in need of a new seat because they are using old or borrowed seats or hand me down seats. Misuse of child seats leads to injury and sometimes even death. Seatbelts are for adults, we need to keep children in child restraints longer to protect them.
Dr Shannon Martinello, Child and Adolescent Health care L.L.C.
Current laws are based upon very antiquated data and there is overwhelming evidence that children should remain rear facing as long as possible. Changing the law to represent best practices would not in any way incur and additional costs or burden on families. The recommendation that children remain in booster seats until they are able to properly fit a seatbelt include five points: That the child is able to sit with kneed bent at the edge of the seat, that the child be seated with the back and bottoms against the seat back while maintaining their knees bent at the seat edge, the lap belt should fit low and snug across the thighs/hips not the belly, the shoulder belt needs to rest over the middle of the chest and cross over the mid collar bone, finally the child needs to be able to remain in this position of the entire duration of the car ride. Failure to comply with these points risks damaging the
child's internal organs, breaking bones and brain/spine as a child body has different proportions than a grown adults. Another deficit is that is that very young children are legally allowed to sit in the front seat. Not only is the seatbelt and inappropriate size for children age 7-12, but air bags can pose and additional danger. The data is overwhelming to support children under the age of 13 sitting in the back seat of a car. This is a beneficial opportunity for our sate and our children. Our children would clearly be safe, there is no downside to improving these laws for our children.
Kelly Murphy, The Safety Group-
The AAP, NHTSA, IIHS, CDC, myself and numerous other respected organizations and child passenger safety advocates strongly recommend that children ride in a rear-facing car seat until, at the minimum, age 2; use a seat with a five-point harness until the maximum weight or height of said seat is reached; and use a booster seat until the child fits correctly in a seat belt alone. Yet, our law requires none of these. Car crashes are the leading cause of injury and death for children under 13 in the United States. It is time to update our laws for the safety of all our children-we can and should lead the way in New England on this issue.
Julie Peters, Brian Injury Alliance of Connecticut
This bill provides increased protections to children by increasing the age and weight requirements for child restraint systems. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “A rear facing child safety seat does an better job of supporting the head, neck, and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash, because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body.” A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in the crash of they are riding read –facing. A Brian injury can change the course of a child's life forever. Fortunately, many brain injuries are preventable.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Reported by: Philip N Mainiero