Inconsistencies in State Laws and Federal Regulations Regarding Child Restraint Use in Automobiles 933087

All fifty states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring children under specified ages to be restrained in an infant restraint system, a toddler restraint system, or an adult seat belt. The child restraint systems are regulated through Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 2 13 Child Restraint Systems. The adult seat belts are regulated through FMVSS 208, Occupant Crash Protection, FMVSS 209. Seat Belt Assemblies, and FMVSS 210. Seat Belt Assembly Anchorages. The combination of differing laws for the fifty states and the District of Columbia, four “rather ambiguous” federal regulations, and recommendations on child restraint and seat belt usage by various safety-conscious groups in the private sector, as well as various foreign countries leads to total stupefaction.
This paper outlines and discusses state laws, federal standards and private sector recommendations. The paper also analyzes the interaction between children and adult 2- and 3-point belts in automobiles. Based on the above reviews, an analysis is made to determine the minimum appropriate size for a child to use an adult 3-point belt. Also, recommendations are made on the most appropriate method of transporting children before they reach the recommended size for adult 3-point belt usage.
The result of this study is a list of recommendations suggesting how state and federal regulations should interface so a consistent philosophy on restraining children in booster seats and automobile lap and laplshoulder belts can be achieved. Based on these recommendations, a suggested practice for the use of laplshoulder belt systems with children is made as follows: 1) children with a sitting height of 28 inches (71.1 cm) or more should use the laplshoulder belt systems in the front or rear seat of the automobile; and 2) children whose sitting height is more then 24 inches (60.9 cm), but less than 28 inches (71.1 cm), should use a “belt positioning booster” which fits well (lap belt firmly across thighs and shoulder belt squarely across shoulder).


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