April 25, 2014

Elyria
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Law requires kids to be secured in booster seat

ELYRIA Twp. — While he’s not exactly crazy about it, Jeremiah Eldemire is a trooper when it comes to climbing into his booster seat in the back seat of the car driven by his mother, Jani.

“It’s so I can be safe,” said the small boy. “If I’m not doing that, I could fly out of the car.”

As for whether he actually likes riding in it? The 5-year-old emphatically shakes his head no.

A teacher at the Elyria Schools’ Kindergarten Village, Jani Eldemire has long been familiar with car seats and securing both of her children in them.

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But a new law, Ohio’s Child Passenger Safety Law, changed Wednesday to require all children younger than 8 or who are less than 4 feet, 9-inches tall to be secured in a booster seat in the back seat of a car, truck or van.

Police and other law enforcement officials will issue warnings for a six-month period ending April 7. After that, the new law will be enforced with citations and fines, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Before the change, Ohio law required children to be in car seats until they were 4 or their weight exceeded 40 pounds.

Eldemire’s 3-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, rides in the second of two car seats in the rear passenger seat of her SUV.

Joanna Timura, a former teacher whose two children attend Kindergarten Village, said Wednesday she had just had a long conversation with a state trooper about the change in the law.

“Part of the reasoning behind it was to get children to sit higher in a car because of the airbags,” she said.

The higher elevation means children are less apt to be injured by the sudden force exerted by front- and side-mounted airbags deploying during an accident.

Another expected advantage of booster seats is that they generally elevate small children enough so that a seatbelt can be secured over their shoulder just as it would for an adult driver or passenger. Kids not secured in car seats risk serious injury in crashes because regular seat belts may be angled across them too high or may be moved behind a child’s back, according to officials.

Jeremiah Eldemire, who stands 47 inches tall and weighs 45 pounds, admitted his booster seat is pretty comfy and does offer certain amenities like cupholders that are often filled by mom with his favorite snacks.

“Fries and fruit,” he pointed out with a big grin.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.