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Is your 4to 8 year old child using an adult seat belt?
By CharlesOfria

Children between the ages of four and eight years old fall into an area that,up till now, has been neglected by safety advocates.  These children (inthe range of 40 to 80 pounds) are too big to fit in a standard child safety seatand are too small to properly use an adult safety belt.  They tend tocomplain that the shoulder portion of the belt rubs against their neck and ofteninsist on placing the shoulder belt behind them or, in many cases, removing thebelt entirely.  When they do wear the belt, the lap portion of the beltoften falls too high across their abdomen which can cause serious internalinjuries in a crash.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that while injuries and fatalities involving infants and toddlers are down because of aggressive education efforts, injuries and fatalities among children between four and eight years old have not declined.  In fact, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children in this age group taking more than 500 lives per year and seriously injuring thousands more.

To keep our children safe, we need to make sure that they ride in booster seats.  According to the NHTSA, a child under 80 pounds is almost always too small for an adult belt.  These kids tend to squirm, play and fall asleep while riding in cars, making the problem worse.  They also found that by using a booster seat, the child is elevated to a position that allows the belt to fit properly with the added benefit of allowing the child to easily see out of the window. 

I created this page after a conversation with Autumn AlexanderSkeen, a child safety advocate from Washington state who was instrumental ingetting her state to become the first to mandate that children from four toeight years of age ride in booster seats.  "Anton's Law" is namedafter her son, who was killed in an accident because he was wearing an adultseat belt that a paramedic found still buckled after Anton was ejected from thecar.

Ms. Skeen joined forces with Ford Motor Company to create "Boost America" the mostcomprehensive child safety campaign in automotive history to protect "theseforgotten children." 

On April 19,2000 at the New York Auto Show, Ford President and CEO Jac Nasser along with Ms.Skeen announced their campaign to distribute one million of these booster seatsin the first year.  Ford has pledged a significant financial commitment toprovide 500,000 free booster seats during the first year of the campaign forfamilies that cannot afford them.  Nasser is shown here talking to thechildren who demonstrated the booster seats at the press conference.  Left to right:Ford's Jim O'Connell; Autum Skeen; and Jac Nasser. 

Click here to enter theBoost America web site for more information

Booster seats that were used in this demonstration are manufactured by Evenflo Company, Inc.

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