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Since August 1st, 2010, the State of Colorado requires booster seats for all children under age 8 when they ride in cars. Previously, the state recommended boosters seats for children between 4 and 6 years old, and only children under the age of 4 had to ride in child safety seats. Babies younger than 1 year old and less than 20 pounds must ride in a rear-facing car seat and only in the back seat of a vehicle. Once babies reach the age of 1 and weigh at least 20 pounds, they can use a front-facing seat installed in the back seat of a vehicle. Under the new law, drivers who violate the booster seat law face a $82 fine.

Why is this so important? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) Traffic Safety Facts based on 2008 data, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14 years old. Every day in 2008 in the United States, an average of four children under 15 years old were killed and another 529 were injured in motor vehicle crashes.

In spite of these figures, research has shown that lap/shoulder seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat occupants (ages five and older) of passenger cars by 45% and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50%. For light truck occupants, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60% and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 65%. Fortunately, child safety seats are extremely effective when used properly. In passenger cars, child safety seats reduced fatal injury by 71% for infants younger than 1 year old and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4 years old.

As effective as child safety seats can be in protecting against major injuries, they cannot serve their purpose if the wrong child safety seat is used or of if the safety seat is installed incorrectly. Simply failing to read the child safety seat instructions and/or vehicle owner manual instructions regarding safety belts could result in serious injury or death. Always read the child restraint manufacturer instructions and vehicle owner manual instructions when installing a child safety seat into your car. To verify that you have installed the seat correctly, certified technicians are also available to inspect your child safety seat for damage, to ensure that you have chosen the appropriate seat for your child’s age and size, and to show you how to correctly install and use the seat in your vehicle(s).

Whether your child needs a rear-facing safety seat, forward-facing safety seat, or booster seat, he or she should always ride in the back seat of the vehicle. Regardless of whether your state law requires the use of a booster seat for children over four years old, the safety of your child should be your primary goal. Follow the lead of the State of Colorado and make sure your little ones are safely secured the next time you hit the road.

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