Tuesday, February 03, 2009

More nanny state

Not content to keep private individuals from smoking in public bars and restaurants, the Minnesota legislature is debating whether to make it illegal to smoke in a car when children are present. (By the way, can anyone tell me if that would apply to a convertible?)

Today lawmakers heard testimony for another proposed law that would require booster seats in cars for all children under the age of eight or shorter than 4'9". While this may be a great intention, it bypasses the fact that parents are responsible for the safety of their children. Just because something is the law doesn't mean it will be done. In fact, that comes up later.

But the article on Kare11.com contained a quote that made my jaw drop.

The story was about an 8 year old girl who was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident with her grandmother driving. According to the parents, their daughter is paralyzed because Minnesota didn't make a law to force them to make their child use a booster seat. In reality, the parents need to look somewhere else for the guilty party, somewhere a lot closer to home-
Brynn's spinal cord was permanently severed at the waist, Dr. Kiragu said. In the accident Brynn's seat belt rose above her lap and onto her stomach. And she had put the seat belt behind her back, like most children do, Kiragu said.
That's right, the little girl was wearing the lap belt but not the shoulder harness. It was pulled up over her head and behind her back.

I have never let my kids do that, and I've never known any parents that let their kids do that. So I can't really say if it is common or not. Whether or not it is common, it isn't legal.

The Fergus Falls Daily had a quote from the mother-
The bottom strap did not rest on her hips as intended, and the top belt was placed behind Brynn’s back to avoid the belt in her face.
Later in the story, she even acknowledges that she knew her child should have used a booster seat, but didn't use one that day because the state had not mandated her to do so.

Because Dixie had previously recognized the lack of support a normal seat belt provided for Brynn, she had made sure Brynn regularly sat in a booster seat.

However, on the day of the accident, a quick shift in plans resulted in the transfer of Brynn to her grandmother’s car, where the booster was not present.

“If it had been law, we would have automatically had the booster with us,” she said.

But there already is a law that covers this. The Minnesota law that requires both the lap and shoulder belt to be worn, regardless if it is convenient or not-


Subdivision 1.Seat belt requirement.

(a) A properly adjusted and fastened seat belt, including both the shoulder and lap belt when the vehicle is so equipped, shall be worn by:

(1) the driver of a passenger vehicle or commercial motor vehicle;

(2) a passenger riding in the front seat of a passenger vehicle or commercial motor vehicle; and

(3) a passenger riding in any seat of a passenger vehicle who is older than three but younger than 11 years of age.

That's right, the law in Minnesota specifically addresses this situation.

Everyone is sad at the thought of an 8 year old girl who will never walk again. I can't even imagine the grief that these parents must have experienced. But the fault here lies with the grandmother who allowed this child to put the belt behind her back, which is illegal. And it lies with a mother, who knew that her daughter needed a booster seat but decided to let her go without.

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