Government Restraint


This summary of state child restraint laws is enough to make a libertarian—or birth control user—out of anybody. (Key Lesson: Seek legal counsel before taking your kids on vacation to Maine or South Carolina.)

I found it while trying to figure out what to do with our 3-year-old daughter who no longer fits in her car safety seat. Turns out she weighs a few pounds less than the 40 lb minimum that would qualify her to use a regular seat belt in Connecticut. So many choices: Break the law? Stuff rocks in her pockets? Lard her up with Big Macs? Move to Louisiana? Break the law?


NEXT: Statistical Bungling

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  1. Russ, the problem with your suggestion is then we all pay for other people’s hang-ups – including folks who don’t have any kids.

    My problem with this is they’re taking the approach that good advice should become enforced law. This is a clumsy tool as it limits flexibility and takes a one size fits all approach. Several experts are now suggesting that any child under the weight of 80 lbs. should have a booster seat because the belts don’t fit properly. That can include children up to 8 years old! Of course there’s been talk of legislating it in some states. I’d like to see how they plan to enforce it – the cops will have to keep a scale in their patrol cars, I guess.

    I know there are products that allow you to adjust seat belts to fit children. It seems to me to be a better solution to use those small velcro & nylon adjusters than to have to put a large, expensive (and mostly ugly, in my opinion) booster seat in your car for eight years per child! Also, cars coming onto the market in the next few years will have rear passenger airbags that sense the occupant’s size and position to determine whether to fire and with how much force in a crash. If you’ve purchased one of these newer vehicles, where seat belt use is increasingly irrelevant because air bags are designed for use by unbelted passengers, need you be forced to comply with this regulation?

  2. So you’re complaining about a “patchwork or state laws,” huh? Why do I suspect that you’d be no happier if Ted Kennedy were to propose a federal standard?

  3. Jim is right.
    Good advice makes bad laws.
    Like banning smoking in cars with children in Georgia

  4. Hey, I live in Louisiana.
    What’s so wrong with Louisiana??

    Oh yeah…. Now I remember.

    I withdraw the question.

  5. I imagine next will be a helmet law for kids in cars.

  6. I’m such a klutz and fell down so much as a kid, I’m surprised my state didn’t pass legislation mandating helmets for kids at ALL times — with bubble wrap for the rest of the body strongly suggested.

  7. I agree with Joe – a patchwork of state laws is preferable to a federal standard in almost all cases, including this one.

  8. “Several experts are now suggesting that any child under the weight of 80 lbs. should have a booster seat because the belts don’t fit properly. That can include children up to 8 years old!”

    Hah! My family is small. My 13 year old daughter weighs less than 80 pounds!

    The nanny state has become ridiculous. How safe is safe enough? Perhaps we should pack our children in shock-resistant, gel-filled bubbles and roll them into armored cars.

  9. Break the law.

  10. There are in between boosters for kids too big for a car seat and not big enough for an adult seat belt. Geta grip–it’s only her life, not yours. THings must be slow if this is the best you can do for an outraged post.

  11. Get a booster. Some cars have them as an optional
    built-in fold-out feature in the back seat.

  12. Rachel – Yeah, we’re getting a booster seat of course, so please don’t turn me in. My point is to highlight the crazy patchwork of state rules on this.

  13. I’d say petition the government to provide you a booster seat at no cost to you. Why should you have to pay for someone else’s hang ups?

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