The beginning of a new year has a different meaning to everyone. Some say they’re going to get up a few minutes earlier and go for that jog, while others impose laws restricting certain activities in a vehicle. For California state legislation it’s the latter as a new law requiring children under the age of eight to use booster seats kicks in at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, January 1st, 2012.
Children younger than eight years old, or even those older who aren’t tall enough for a seatbelt to fit properly, will be required to sit in a booster seat in the back seat according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. Before this new law was prepared children weren’t required to sit in a booster seat if they were older than six and weighed more than 60 pounds.
“This is an important new law that will impact more than 1.1 million children in California,” Christopher J. Murphy, director of the Office of Traffic Safety, said in a written statement to the Sacramento Bee. “Keeping them in booster seats increases their chance of surviving a crash by 45 percent.”
Almost all children that are encompassed in this new law can continue to use the booster seat they have. A new booster seat can be purchased at most major retailers and usually sell for around $15 to $20. Spending an extra $20 is a lot better than the $475 fine and violation point that will be added to violators’ driving records.
According to California’s Office of Traffic and Safety a child is ready to just use a seat belt when they can sit up straight for the duration of travel. Other guidelines that determine when a child is ready for a seat belt are when the lap belt wraps around the hips and touches the upper thighs and when the shoulder belt crosses the chest and not the neck or face. It’s important that children never put the seat belt behind them as major injuries to their head and spinal cord can occur if involved in a major crash. It’s also a telling sign that a child still needs a booster seat if they continue to put the seat belt behind them.
Other driving-related laws that go in affect on January 1, 2012 are a tougher drunk-driving law in Nebraska and a complete cell-phone ban in Oregon. In Nebraska those convicting of driving under the influence can either have their license revoked or request to have an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.
“This law improves public safety by removing a drunk driver from the road as quickly as possible,” said Gov. Dave Heineman in a statement. “The DMV conducts 6,000 administrative hearings annually. This law will streamline the process for law enforcement, the DMV and the DUI offender. By using the ignition interlock device, offenders can continue to drive to work and go to school, but only if they are driving safe and sober.”
In Oregon, it’s already illegal to use a cell phone while operating a vehicle but this latest law covers texting and any other interactions with a hand-held device. The violation will be classified as a Class D offense and will come with a fine of $110. Most states already have stringent laws about drinking and driving and using a hand-held phone while driving. Many are closing any loop-holes and bringing laws up-to-date as technology continually changes.
Do you know of any driving laws that are coming into effect in your home state January 1, 2012? Do you think they are for the better or worse? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.