Child safety is imperative on any drive, no matter how short. Children are much more vulnerable to severe and fatal injuries in automobile accidents than adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death among children. In 2018, 97,000 children 12 and under were injured and 636 lost their lives in traffic accidents.
All 50 states have child safety seat laws to better protect vulnerable children in car accidents. Understanding and obeying these laws as a parent or guardian could save your child’s life.
What Are Missouri’s Child Restraint Laws?
In Missouri, it is against the law to transport a child without using the proper safety restraint system. All children should be seated in the back seat and strapped into the correct restraint device. According to the Revisor Statutes of Missouri, Section 307.179, every driver transporting a child under the age of 16 is responsible for protecting the child through the following means:
Rear-facing car seat. Any child under 4 years old or less than 40 pounds must be secured in a passenger restraint system. Currently, the accepted type of seat for an infant is a rear-facing car seat with a five-point harness.
Forward-facing car seat. Once the child grows enough to meet the manufacturer of the car seat’s minimum height and weight, he or she can transition to a forward-facing car seat.
Booster seat. Children between the ages of 4 and 8 years old, who also weigh between 40 and 80 pounds and are less than 4’9” tall, must be secured in a booster seat or child restraint system.
Seat belt. Once a child is at least 80 pounds and more than 4’9” in height, he or she can graduate to a normal vehicle safety belt, as long as it fits the child correctly.
These rules do not apply to drivers hired as public carriers, such as taxi and rideshare drivers. They also do not apply to children who are 4 or older who are riding in buses or vehicles equipped to carry 11 passengers or more. Failing to obey Missouri’s booster seat laws is an infraction punishable by up to $50, plus court costs. The charges may be dismissed if the driver can prove that he or she has obtained the correct child restraint system before the hearing date.
What Are the Benefits of Booster Seats?
Booster seats dramatically decrease the risk of a child suffering serious or deadly injuries in an automobile accident. A booster seat lifts a small child to the proper height to use the vehicle’s seat belt system to its full potential. Without a booster seat, a small child would be too short to use an adult seat belt. The lap or shoulder belt may fall on the incorrect place on the child and cause more harm than good in a car accident.
For example, if a small child who should be using a booster seat does not, the lap belt may fall on his or her stomach instead of the upper thighs. In a car accident, the seat belt may cut into the soft part of the child’s stomach with such force that it damages the internal organs or spinal cord. With a booster seat, the lap belt would fit snugly across the child’s lap, holding him or her safely in place in a collision. The same is true for a shoulder belt, which may dangerously cut across a child’s head or neck without a booster seat.
Booster Seat Safety Tips
When choosing the right booster seat for your child, do your research. Choose one with a high safety rating and positive consumer reviews. Do not purchase a used or older-model car seat, as it may be damaged by previous car accidents or the sun and not properly protect your child in a car accident. You should also check for booster seat product recalls. If you need assistance properly installing your booster seat, take it to a free inspection center near you in Kansas City