FRANKFORT — The state House Transportation Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would expand Kentucky's booster-seat law, a move its supporters said would save lives and curb injuries.
House Bill 199, sponsored by Rep. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, would change Kentucky's law to require booster seats in vehicles for any child younger than 9 who is 40 to 57 inches tall.
Any child who is taller than 57 inches wouldn't be required to be secured in a booster seat. Violation of the measure would cost $25.
A 2008 law requires that children be in booster seats until they reach age 7 or a height of 50 inches.
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Gov. Steve Beshear, in an email message, said he applauds the committee vote.
"Research shows that our state's current booster-seat requirements leave older children vulnerable to terrible injuries or even death in car crashes, and this bill provides better security for them at no additional burden to Kentucky families," Beshear said.
Hall told committee members that 32 states, including all the states that border Kentucky, have the stronger booster-seat law.
Each of Kentucky's neighboring states had a lower death rate in 2010 for children ages 4 to 14 who were involved in fatal wrecks, he said.
In Kentucky and the nation, car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14. According to the state's 2012 Child Fatality Review report, 13 children ages 5 to 9 died in car crashes in 2010 and 2011. Of these, more than half were not in any restraint, and others were not using age-appropriate child safety restraints.
Hall said after the committee meeting that he might alter the bill so it would be gradually implemented to give people more time to get booster seats. The committee voted 18-5 to send the bill to the House for consideration. Five committee members did not vote.
The House has approved the measure in recent sessions, but it has died in the Senate.
Hall said that this year, the Senate might like his plan to add gradual implementation.
"This is about children," he said. "If you take care of the most vulnerable in society, that's the measurement of government."