The enforcement provision in Colorado’s booster seat law begins on Sunday, August 1, 2004, reports the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Colorado’s booster seat law took effect last year, with the first year devoted to education about the law and booster seats. “I am happy to have this important legislation in place,” said State Senator Peter Groff, who sponsored the booster seat law. “I was pleased to work with Governor Owens to prevent injuries and save lives on Colorado highways. ”The booster seat law was added last year to Colorado’s child passenger safety law. It requires children who weigh over 40 pounds or are at least four years old to be properly restrained in a child booster seat or with a child safety belt-positioning device. Children must ride in booster seats until they are six years old or 55 inches tall.“ Booster seats give critical protection to children who have outgrown child car seats but are too small to fit into adult seat belts,” said Tom Norton, CDOT Executive Director. “This protection is essential to preventing injury and death to young passengers in traffic crashes. ”Using a booster seat correctly positions the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt on the child; correctly positioning the lap belt across the child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the chest. A child incorrectly positioned with only the vehicle’s seat belt is at risk for serious abdominal, spinal and other injuries if involved in a traffic crash. During the first year of the law, efforts focused on educating parents and caregivers about the law and proper use of child safety seats and seat belts for children. Only warnings were issued by law enforcement agencies for violations of the booster seat law during that time. On August 1, 2004 officers will issue both citations and warnings. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that child passengers are properly buckled up in the appropriate restraint on every trip.“ Motorists will not see additional enforcement starting on August 1. Law enforcement agencies will include booster seat law enforcement in their ongoing enforcement of Colorado’s child passenger safety law,” said Col. Mark Trostel, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol (CSP). “In addition, continued education about booster seats will be a top priority.” Colorado’s child passenger safety law includes both secondary and primary enforcement. The booster seat portion of the law is secondary enforcement, meaning a driver must be stopped for another driving offense before they can be ticketed for a violation of the booster seat provision. The infant seat, child safety seat and seat belt provisions of the law are primary enforcement, meaning the driver can be stopped and ticketed if an officer sees an unrestrained or improperly restrained child in the vehicle. In addition to clearly defining booster seat use, the child passenger safety law also details child safety seat and seat belt use from birth through age 15 as follows:• The law requires infants to ride in a rear-facing child safety seat until they are at least one year old and weigh at least 20 pounds.• The law requires children ages one to four years old that weigh from 20 pounds up to 40 pounds to be restrained in a forward-facing child safety seat.• A child who is at least six years old or at least 55" tall must be properly restrained with a safety belt. In 2003 in Colorado, 46 child passengers under age16 died in traffic crashes. Of the victims, 33 (72percent) were riding completely unrestrained. “All parents and caregivers need to take two seconds to properly restrain their children inappropriate child safety seats,” said Col. Mark Trostel, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol (CSP).“Inspections conducted across the state show that more than 90 percent of Colorado’s children are riding at risk in improperly installed child safety seats.” The CSP received a $273,000 grant from CDOT to provide information about Colorado’s booster seat law, train car seat technicians and instructors and coordinate child passenger safety activities statewide. The grant is paid for with Federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“As administrators of the grant, the CSP has created a program titled, CPS TEAMColorado,” said Trostel. “CPS (Child Passenger Safety) TEAM Colorado provides the umbrella for coordinating the child safety seat activities for all safety seat technicians from the CSP, other law enforcement agencies, fire safety and numerous community safety organizations across Colorado.” “There is tremendous consumer misunderstanding of crash dynamics,” Trostel pointed out. “Many parents and caregivers frequently do not understand how child safety seats and seat belt systems are designed to work in emergency situations. Misuse of child safety seats is so common; you can assume that it can be found to some degree in any vehicle that has a child inside. Currently, CPS TEAM Colorado is working with more than 1,000 technicians statewide to offer training and support services to provide safety seat inspections throughout the state. CPS TEAMColorado has also helped organize more than 100 fit stations where parents and caregivers can find assistance with how to install and use child safety seats properly. Denver Health offers car seat checks by appointment only every third Wednesday of the month from 4-8 p.m. at their fit station at the Rita Bass building. The next one is on August 18. Paramedics check the seats and educate parents about child passenger safety and booster seats.