New law requires children to be in safety car seats longer

Updated: Aug. 1, 2019 at 5:54 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Stricter car seat laws are taking effect and state police say it's all in an effort to curb preventable injuries or even deaths.

State law now requires children to remain in their safety seats longer.

“It’s a great day today because now we have a new law that matches best practice,” Bridget Gardner, Trauma and Injury Prevention Coordinator at UMC said.

"Well they know that it's safer to keep them rear-facing as long as as possible. So I think parents should follow those laws," one parent said.

Those under the age of two now need to be restrained in a rear-facing child seat until they reach the weight and height limit of the seat.

“We’re going to keep children rear-faced a little bit longer because we know that rear-facing, the shell of the seat actually cradles the head and spine,” said Gardner. “What we’re worried about is head and spinal cord injuries because those have lifetime consequences.”

Children can transition into booster seats once they outgrow the seat, and if they are at least four-years-old.

"When they outgrow the booster seat, there's a five step test that a child will have to pass before they're able to actually sit in the seatbelt," State Trooper Monroe Dillon said.

“The child must be able to sit all the way back against the seat with feet flat on the floor, the knees must bend over the seat and the shoulder strap needs to fit across the chest while the lap belt fits against the hips,” Dillon said.

"A lot of times we see that strap that's against the neck of the child, and the first thing the child wants to do is bring it around their neck, and now we lost a protection," Dillon said.

According to the law, children under the age of 13 can not ride in the front.

"At 13-years-old, you are allowed to sit in the front seat, but we still want that seat to be a little further back from that airbag because there are injuries that can be sustained from that airbag, and we see it a lot," Dillon said.

Some parents say they agree with the stricter car seat law.

“I think parents should be keeping their children in car seats. The last thing you want to see is a kid flying out the windshield. It just really bothers me when I see children five or six sitting in the front seat. I think it’s terrible. It’s child endangerment when they do that,” a parent said.

Those not sure about the new regulations can visit State Police Troop B in Kenner every Wednesday afternoon for questions about car seats.

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