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New child seat laws going into effect across the state
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ATLANTA—Gov. Nathan Deal teamed up with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Safe Kids Georgia on Monday by signing into law Senate Bill 88. This legislation, introduced as SB 88 in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Mullis and as HB 279 in the House by Rep. Alan Powell, will require children to be properly restrained in a child passenger safety restraint device until they are 8 years of age.

“It is important that we protect the lives of our children by ensuring every young Georgian is properly secured while riding in a motor vehicle,“ said Gov. Deal. “I am grateful for the work that both chambers did to make this legislation a reality.”

In 2008, a total of 14,154 children ages 6-8 years in Georgia were involved in motor vehicle crashes. Of those children, 1,755 were injured and 10 were killed. Only 12 percent of these children were reported to be using a supplemental restraint, such as a child safety seat or a booster seat, in addition to the adult seat belt. In the three-year period from 2005 to 2007, hospitalization charges for 248 children who were hospitalized due to motor vehicle traffic related injuries were about $7 million. An additional $5 million in charges was for the 5,111 emergency room visits for the same period.

"Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta came to me and said during the last four years 95 percent of the patients they saw for injuries resulting from a motor vehicle crash between the ages of 6 and 8 were improperly restrained,” Mullis said. “I believe it is our responsibility to protect our children and when there is an obvious problem, we need to fix it.  I was honored they asked me to work on this issue on behalf of children all across Georgia.”

Director Harris Blackwood of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said, “This bill will bring Georgia in line with the age recommendations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Certain exemptions, which were already part of state law, still apply.”

A child is exempted from the law if one of the following is true:

He is at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall.

He has a written statement from a physician for a medical condition.

He weighs 40 pounds or more, and the available lap and shoulder belts are being used to properly restrain other children.