WHAT OTHERS SAY: Be responsible for safety of child passengers

Thursday, September 13, 2012 | 1:26 p.m. CDT

Protect the children.

Because children are vulnerable, adults have a moral and legal responsibility to transport them safely.

Emphasizing that dual imperative is the goal of National Child Passenger Safety Week, to be observed Sunday through Sept. 22.

Joining to bring awareness to passenger safety for children are the Missouri Highway Patrol, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Ad Council and other safety advocates.

The message focuses on the very real problem of preventable deaths and injuries to children who were improperly restrained or unrestrained in vehicles.

In 2011, 12 children younger than 8 died in traffic crashes and another 1,764 were injured, according to the patrol. Troopers also cited 1,878 drivers last year who failed to secure children younger than 8 in a child restraint/booster seat, and another 832 drivers for failure to buckle up children 80 pounds or more or taller than 4 feet 9 inches.

State law requires:

  • Children younger than 4 to use an appropriate child passenger restraint system.
  • Children less than 40 pounds, regardless of age, to be secured in with an appropriate child passenger restraint system.
  • Children ages 4-8 who weigh at least 40 pounds, but less than 80 pounds, and are under 4 feet 9 inches tall, to be secured with an appropriate restraint system or booster seat.
  • Children ages 8-15 to wear seat belts regardless of the type of vehicle in which they are riding or where they are seated.
  • People younger than 18 years operating or riding in trucks to wear seat belts. Riding in the open bed of a truck is prohibited, although specific exemptions apply.

Although vehicle occupants age 16 and over are responsible for themselves, drivers are responsible for ensuring passengers younger than 16 are restrained safely.

This is more than a legal responsibility.

Motorists may evade the law, but they cannot evade the laws of physics.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.