Bill Proposes Changes to Child Safety Seat Laws in Connecticut

The state laws on how long a child should be in a car seat could be changing.

Advocates said a proposed bill by Rep. Brenda Kupchick would match state laws on child seats to national recommendations.

Currently in Connecticut a child needs to be in a rear-facing child seat until age one or weighing 20 pounds, according to the legislation

"Any person who transports a child under one year of age or weighing less than twenty pounds in a motor vehicle on the highways of this state shall provide and require the child to ride rear-facing in a child restraint system approved pursuant to regulations that the Department of Motor Vehicles shall adopt in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54."

The new bill proposes to keep children rear-facing until age two and weighing 30 pounds.

Also, Connecticut law keeps a child in a booster seat until they are above age six or over 60 pounds.

But this new bill wants keep children in a child safety seat until age eight.

Child Passenger Safety Technicians said especially for infants and toddlers, rear facing car seats create a cradling effect to better protect them in a crash.

"The weight of their neck will force their head forward in such a violent way that it could literally cause paralysis, death, internal decapitation,” said Nick Aysseh, CPST Instructor at Yale-New Haven Health.

"They can crisscross their feet, they can touch the back of the seat with their feet, but that isn't a concern. Our concern is the spinal cord,” said Jason Cioci, a firefighter with Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department. He’s also part of The Safety Group.

AAA Allied Group of Greater Hartford is endorsing the bill, touting that it’s based on standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

But parents have mixed opinions.

Glenn Gartner’s top priority is his childrens' safety.

"I think a premium should be on parents as drivers knowing what you have in the back seat,” the Gales Ferry resident said.

But with his 2-year-old and his almost 5-year-old above the curve in height -- Gartner doesn't necessarily agree with keeping kids in rear-facing car seats until age two.

"Anything for safety precautions, it can't hurt. It’s to benefit them,” said Erica Porter of New London.

"When it comes to having a strict policy on that, I really say it’s child dependent and the parent should use their best judgement,” Toni Rapacciuolo, of New London, said.

The bill was well received at the Transportation Committee Monday. It could be voted on later this month.

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