The “safety” lobby strikes again. A new California State law goes into effect next week, meaning kids will be stuck with booster seats until age 8:
California state law currently requires parents to keep their kids in booster seats until they reach the age of 6 or weigh at least 60 pounds. The new law does away with the weight limit and requires children to stay in booster seats until they hit 8 years old or 4 feet, 9 inches tall – a height that very few children will reach before that age.
While the new requirement is likely to provoke a collective shriek from children throughout the state, child safety experts say the change is for their own good. Studies show booster seat use for children ages 4 through 7 decreases the risk of injury by nearly 60 percent compared with seat belt use alone.
As with seat belts, ABS, and other “safety” devices, it is doubtful the new law will reduce fatalities. It is well documented that such devices fail to improve overall safety, largely because of Risk Compensation.
Indeed, we can expect the new law will fail because the original California car-seat legislation failed. Back in 1982, when California passed its first car-seat law, backers made similar predictions — which did not pan out. Guerin and MacKinnon did a time-series analysis of fatality rates for children ages 0-3 (the 1982 law mandated car seats for 0-3 year-olds). They found no reduction in fatality rates before and after the law was passed.
(And yes, Guerin and MacKinnon did report a small reduction in the injury rate, but injury reporting by police is highly subjective and notoriously unreliable.)
In practical terms, this means parents have to wait until their kids reach age 8 before being able to use car-share services. It also turns parents into possible lawbreakers everytime they ride a taxi.