Starting July 1st, a new Michigan booster seat law takes effect. That means, all kids must be in a booster seat until they are 8-years-old or are 4’9” tall, whichever comes first.
The booster seat law is already on the books in 38 other states including Indiana.
The new Michigan law has bi-partisan support. Lawmakers say it's a law that will help keep kids save if they are in a car accident.
“I’ve actually been very surprised that it took this long for Michigan to adopt this law,” says Annemieke Kosten, a Niles mother of three.
Despite the new law on the books, Kosten is already following the rules. She has her 4- and 6-year-old in booster seats. “With them having to stay in the booster seats longer, the shoulder straps fit better, it will hold them in. It will definitely cut down on injuries and deaths from car accidents,” adds Kosten.
The statistics are alarming. Studies shows that 90 percent of children between four and eight who are injured in auto accidents are not restrained in a booster seat.
“The majority of those can be attributed to seat belts not properly fashioned and/or seatbelts because they're designed for adults. With children being in an accident, they're hitting them in the wrong places, causing internal and head injuries that can result in death,” says Michigan Representative John Proos, a Republican from the 79th District.
With the hopes of preventing future tragedies, Michigan's Governor signed the booster seat bill into law. That means kids must be in a booster until age 8 or 4'9 tall, whichever comes first.
In either case, officials say children might be safer in a booster seat, even if it's not required by law.
“It's very important that the seatbelt cover your shoulder and your chest properly, so it restrains you properly and doesn't cause additional injury,” says Lt. Mike Brown, with the Michigan State Police.
Meantime, parents and kids alike seem to think the new law is one that will help save lives. “I'm glad they finally made it law so people who weren't aware of it before are now more aware,” says Kosten. Her son, 6-year-old Ryan, says he doesn’t mind getting buckled in his booster seat. “When we drive around we have to get buckled up because it's safe and if we get in a car accident, we won't get hurt.”
Buying a booster seat will cost you anywhere between $15 and $100 dollars. Police say they're hoping to educate people on this new booster seat law over the next couple months. They say they'll initially hand out warnings and then tickets if people don't have the seats.
Most local police departments have someone that can make sure the booster seats are properly installed. It's usually a free charge, just call ahead to make an appointment.