Study finds inconsistencies in state child passenger safety laws

New York – Some state child restraint laws do not meet guidelines from current research and medical experts, concludes a study from New York University.

Researchers compared child passenger safety laws in all 50 states from 1978 to 2010 and found many differences. Some states only cover kids up to age 4 even though pediatrics experts recommend using child restraint devices until children are 4 feet 9 inches – usually between ages 8 and 12.

Other laws were unclear because they do not differentiate between rear-facing infant seats and forward-facing car seats or booster seats. Another issue researchers identified was exemptions, such as for commercial passenger vehicles, according to the study abstract.

To help close the legal gaps, researchers suggested improved communication among state lawmakers, health researchers and advocacy groups to promote more consistent and scientifically sound policies.

The study was published online Nov. 5 in the journal Social Science & Medicine.