Simplifying Science

Inching Closer to Safety

Well New Hampshire, you are getting closer. You have decided to mandate that all children up to the age of 7  (increased from 6) and a height of 57" (up from 55") be in a "car seat" (which presumably means booster for the older of these kids, not 5-point restraint). At age 7, a child only gets to sit in a regular seat if she has hit the magical 57". But at age 9, the height requirement disappears, so a 53" child can sit without a booster. Here's the problem: there is a reason that the recommended height to graduate out of a booster is 57" (or as my 8 and 10 year old kids often call it, "The unfair height of 4'9", which we will never get to, Mom!"). At 57", the shoulder strap restraint hits a child across, you guessed it, the shoulder, and the lap belt component sits at the right place along the belly. Before 57", the shoulder strap crosses the neck. A seat belt doesn't care if a child is 7 or 8 or 9 years old - it works when a child is tall enough for it to work. A short child strapped across the neck can be seriously injured in an accident. So it is a good start, New Hampshire, but there's still room for improvement. You also, by the way, have some room in that seatbelt law mentioned at the end...

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