FRANKFORT — A Senate committee unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that would raise the age and height of children required to use booster seats in cars.
Currently, the law says children younger than 7 and less than 40 inches tall should use booster seats or face a $50 penalty, plus a $10 mandatory donation to the Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund.
House Bill 315, as amended Wednesday by the Senate Transportation Committee, would raise those requirements to age 8 and 57 inches.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, initially proposed increasing the age to 9, which is the age recommended by pediatric advocacy groups, but the Senate panel dropped the required age to 8.
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Previous efforts to expand Kentucky's booster seat law, which was approved in 2008, have failed repeatedly in the Republican-led Senate, but Senate Transportation Chairman Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, said support for the measure has grown.
He said he was persuaded to back it after hearing a pediatrician at a National Conference of State Legislatures meeting speak of the damage children can incur when not properly buckled into a car.
Harris predicted that the Senate will approve the bill when lawmakers return to Frankfort March 23 for a two-day session to consider any vetoes made by Gov. Steve Beshear, who has repeatedly asked lawmakers to strengthen the booster seat law.
Testifying for the bill in the Senate committee was Bill Bell, executive director of the state Office of Highway Safety, and Lexington police officer Brandon Muravchick.
Bell was accompanied by his 6-year-old son, Ryder, who is 47 inches tall. Bell said he wants his son safely positioned while in a car.
Muravchick told lawmakers he suffered serious injuries in a car wreck when he was 8.
He said a seat belt saved his life, but the belt nearly crushed his internal organs because he was too short.
He said he had his 10th surgery related to the accident in 2012.