Proposed Tennessee law would increase safety seat requirements to 12-years-old


JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- Tennessee is close to passing a law that would require kids to stay in a car or booster seat until 12-years-old. The bill is headed to Governor Bill Haslam’s desk after the House and Senate passed it Monday night.

Current Tennessee law requires rear-facing car seats until age one, forward-facing car seats until age three, and booster seats until age eight.

The new requirements would increase the age requirement for each safety seat. Kids would be required to sit in a rear-facing car seat until two years-old, a forward-facing car seat until five years-old, and a booster seat until 12 years-old or until the child reaches 4-foot 9-inches.

Some parents are on-board with the proposed law. “If they can prove to me that it’s safer, I’m all for it,” said Sloane Uphoff, who has two, young daughters.

More than 600 kids have died in U.S. car accidents in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research also shows that car and booster seats can reduce the risk of injury or death up to 71 percent. Car seat use can reduce the risk of death for infants (aged <1year) by 71 percent and toddlers (aged 1-4 years) by 54 percent in passenger vehicles. Booster seats can reduce the risk for serious injury by 45 percent for children 4-8 years old when compared with seat belt use alone.

Dr. Michelle Estes with Mountain States Medical Group Pediatrics-Kingsport agrees with the proposed changes. “To be in each individual car seat as long as possible before moving on to the next stage is perfect,” said Dr. Estes. “It’s a whole lot safer to be facing backwards [and] having said that, in the five-point harness they’re a whole lot safer than in just the booster seat. My recommendation is keeping them in the five-point harness as long as you possibly can.”

Other parents, like Jessica Joyner, think the auto industry should step up. “I think that’s a long time to require parents to keep a car seat up to date and up to safety measures,” Joyner said. “The car industry, the dealerships, the manufacturer and think about how they could actually make a five-point harness seat belt.”

Governor Haslam has ten days to sign the bill once it gets to his desk. If he does sign it the law would go into effect in July.Copyright WJHL 2016. All rights reserved.

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