Skip Navigation

News

September 25, 2003

New Child Safety Seat Law Effective October 1

Johns Hopkins Children’s Safety Center Offering Free Safety Seat Assistance

The Children’s Safety Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is educating Marylanders about the state’s new child safety seat law. Effective October 1, all children younger than six years of age, regardless of weight, and all children weighing 40 pounds or less, regardless of age, must be secured in a federally approved child safety seat. The law is intended to protect children between the ages of four and six years of age who often travel in cars while only being restrained by the automobile’s seat belt. Staff members from the Children’s Safety Center are available, free of charge, to the public to assist them in selecting the best car safety and booster seats. The Center also provides free car safety seat inspections and installations. In addition, low income families may purchase car safety seats at a discount.

A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that only six percent of booster-aged children were restrained in a booster seat. In the United States, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in children aged 14 and under. Unnecessary injuries and deaths result when children are not properly buckled up or their car safety seats are not installed correctly.

“Parents have learned the importance of car safety seats for infants and toddlers but when it comes to children over the age of four, parents incorrectly believe the car seat belt will provide sufficient protection. The new Maryland law, which requires the use of booster seats for children up to the age of six, will begin to communicate the importance of matching the correct safety seat to the age and weight of the child. Children over the age of six, and who weigh more than 40 pounds, still need to be properly restrained in a car. Booster seats allow the car’s lap and shoulder belt to fit correctly, which is low over the hips and upper thigh and snug over the shoulder,” said Eileen McDonald, program director of the Children’s Safety Center.

Jackie Milani, CPS, director of the Central Maryland Regional Safe Communities Center at Johns Hopkins, said “Safest practice recommends keeping children in safety seats until they are eight years of age and weigh 80 pounds.”

Editor’s Note: Staff from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Safety Center and Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy are available for interviews. Please call Kenna Brigham at 410-955-6878 to schedule an interview.

The Children's Safety Center is a joint program of the Center for Injury Research of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Department of Pediatrics in the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. It is located in the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Brigham or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.