Ontario’s Booster Seat Law Seeks to Limit Injuries to Kids in Accidents
In Ontario, Canada in 2005, a law was passed that made booster seats mandatory for children who are too big for car seats and too small for ordinary adult seat belts. Children who are too small for booster seats must use a car seat by law. The specifics are as follows:
- Babies up to 9 kg must be in a rear-facing car-seat away from all active airbags
- Toddlers between 9 and 18 kg must be in a forward-facing car seat with a tether strap
- Children between 18 and 36 kg must use a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt
And just to make sure that this law is taken seriously, a fine of $110 and two demerit points are slapped on drivers who do not take this important step. This law applies to anyone who carries children in their car, whether they are parents or just the babysitter.
One of the reasons why this law came into being was the growing number of injuries attributed to seat belt syndrome. While seat belts certainly proved to be helpful for adults, a number of youngsters were sustaining serious internal and abdominal injuries due to lap seat belts. This is mainly due to two factors. One is that seatbelts are mainly designed with adults in mind, not children. Secondly, in a number of cases seat belts themselves have been found to be defective.
Many parents think that just because a child is physically big, they are ready to use ordinary seat belts. But the truth is that a child’s body is very different from an adult’s body. The stress and strain that an adult’s body can take could have serious repercussions for a child. For example, during impact, an adult might sustain whiplash but a child’s body could actually jackknife. When this happens, the seat belt can actually cause extensive internal injuries.
Ontario’s recent booster seat legislation seems to be working, with studies showing that they actually increase child protection by nearly 60%. Now a number of other Canadian provinces are looking to follow Ontario’s example.
Children might not like booster seats initially, especially if they think it is just a ‘baby seat’. But it is important to make it clear that the booster seat is there for their safety. Furthermore, tell the child that they can only ride in the car if they sit in the booster seat. If the child has older siblings, encourage them to be supportive about using the booster seat. That booster seat could mean the difference between slight scratches and massive internal injuries if an accident occurs.
If your child is injured in an accident and was not properly restrained in the appropriately-sized safety seat, your child will have a claim against the driver of the car—even if the driver is a family member. A consultation with a personal injury lawyer will assist you to determine your child’s rights.