Seeking to curb child fatalities on Kentucky roads, a state House committee approved a bill increasing children’s height requirement for booster seats.
House Bill 282 would require children to use a booster seat while riding in a motor vehicle until they reach 57 inches or the age 9. Currently, children must use booster seats until they reach 53 inches or age 7.
“We’re the only state of our seven surrounding states that don’t have this enactment of up to 9 years old,” said state Rep. Keith Hall, a Democrat from Phelps and the bill’s sponsor. “Thirty-one other states do, and that’s why we think Kentucky has a high number of deaths in the six to eight age old category.”
Twenty-five people younger than age 15 died on Kentucky roadways in 2011, the latest where statistics are available, according to Kentucky State Police.
The bill’s passage came with some criticism.
State Rep. Diane St. Onge, a Republican of Lakeside Park, said the statistics for child fatalities warrant further study, but she was among the two committee members to vote against the bill.
State Rep. Richard Henderson, a Democrat of Mt. Sterling who ultimately voted for the bill, raised concerns that some families may not be able to afford the booster seats required by law.
“The ones that I’m concerned about are the low-income families that may not be able to even afford a booster seat so that’s the question I would ask. And I will go on record saying that I am a full supporter of this piece of legislation,” Henderson said. “And I think it’s just a common sense approach. Numbers don’t lie.”
House Bill 282 passed out of committee with 22 votes and now moves to the full House.