Weekly Feature

2017-11-09 / Local News

Kennedy-, Wallace-backed car seat bill signed into law

Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Cheektowaga; Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, D-Cheektowaga; and Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, stood Wednesday with leadership from AAA of Western and Central New York, Community Action Organization and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office to outline legislation recently signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that will require children under the age of 2 to ride in rear-facing car seats.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, rear-facing seats help support a child’s head, neck and spine, and distribute force to these critical areas more evenly in the event of a crash. This move brings New York in line with other states; similar laws already exist in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, California, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

“Prioritizing our children’s safety has been the primary force driving this bill forward, and I’m grateful that the governor has signed this important piece of legislation,” Kennedy said. “Research has evolved over the years, and both medical and automotive experts agree that rear-facing seats offer the best possible protection for newborns and infants under 2. It’s important that we not only educate parents on proper measures, but enforce them by law.”

Wallace echoed those comments. “Studies show that rear-facing child seats are much safer for infants than forward-facing ones,” Wallace said. “It is important for parents to be aware that rear-facing infant seats provide the best protection for their children.”

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, “This is a common sense solution that addresses a major safety issue, and I thank [the governor] for signing this bill into law.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the U.S. A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children younger than 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or face serious injury in a crash if they are riding in rear-facing seats. Under the new law, it will only be acceptable for children younger than 2 to ride in forward-facing seats if they exceed the height and weight requirements for the seat.

Tips from AAA on how to install and properly use a rear-facing seating include:

• Always install in the back seat of a vehicle. Never place in the passenger seat with an active air bag.

• Placing in the center seat position is ideal, since it is farthest away from any point of impact.

• The seat should be installed using the LATCH — Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children — system or vehicle safety belt, but never both.

• Rear-facing seats should be installed in the recline mode to protect the baby’s breathing.

• Harnesses should be at or below the infant’s shoulders, with no pinch or slack. The chest clip should be positioned at armpit level.

Although the law goes into effect Nov. 1, 2019, experts encourage parents to take note of and use the new guidelines immediately.

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