Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Booster Seat: An assault on Common Sense

As summer drags on and people prepared for their 4th of July weekend a new Minnesota law went into effect on July 1; Child Safety Seat and Booster Law. Per the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety website,, the new booster seat law requires, “a child who is both under age 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches to be fastened in a child safety seat or booster. Under this law, a child cannot use a seat belt alone until they are age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall - whichever comes first.” The website states that the new law changes the booster seat requirement from age to height basis.

While I understand the shift in philosophy but do we really need a law? This law, much like the law of requiring seat belt use in general, is an insult to Minnesotans intelligence. The new booster seat law simply says that Minnesotan Adults are not capable to make common sense decisions and in order to protect ourselves from ourselves we need another law.

In a conversation I had yesterday with a good friend, a point was raised. What if someone comes in from out of town with 3 children that under the age of 8 and are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches? Will car rental companies be required to provide them booster seats? It is just ridiculous that people allow the government to pass such laws. The old common sense benchmark for children has been that if your child can sit with their back against the seat and can touch the floor of the car an adult seat belt is all they need.

Instead of doing a public service bulletin touting the common sense approach the Minnesota State Legislature feels it’s more important to pass a law that will create revenue. When the Senate was debating the topic, earlier this year, Sen. Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan) stated that, “We potentially in Minnesota will get $260,000 over the next two years to help provide this education and to also help provide the booster seats.” The money comes from federal transportation budget which creates stirs the pot of State right erosion.

Simply put, seat belt and booster seat laws are telling every Minnesotan and American that you are not intelligent enough to protect yourself so we must pass a law.