Earlier today, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report that they jointly authored with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that significantly changed established guidelines for children's car and booster seats.

Here are the highlights - (and your adolescent children aren't going to like it):

Old Guidlines New Guidelines
Children should remain in rear-facing seat until age 1 and 20 lbs.
Children should remain in rear-facing seats until age 2, or as long as possible, i.e., the child reaches the seat's maximum height and weight for the rear-facing car seat
Children should remain in booster seats until age 8.
Booster seats should be used until the child reaches 4' 9" in height, possibly up to age 12.

As an initial matter, it is hard to argue against the report's emphasis on a child's physical size rather than the child's age (regarding the booster seats) in determining what the proper time is for a child to be eligible to sit in a regular car seat; it's actually common sense. (Although I do wonder why it took nearly ten years for these two agencies to sort that out.)

Second, while safety is, of course, a primary concern, this report does leave off a signficant issue: many cars that are currently on the market and/or already in use by parents may have trouble accommodating additional booster seats for those adolescent children.
Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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