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Statewide Campaign Encourages Use of Booster Seats

By Stan Stelter

Bismarck, ND – Boost -- then buckle. That's the message of a statewide campaign that kicked off today (Tuesday) encouraging the use of automobile booster seats for smaller children.

Carol Holzer of the North Dakota Health Department says the campaign will encourage parents to use booster seats -- along with shoulder and lap belts -- for children who are between 40 and 80 pounds and up to 4 feet eight inches tall.

Holzer says booster seats should be considered part of the transition in child safety restraints.

"We start with an infant car seat and for an infant they need to face the rear until they are one year of age, then the child comes out of the infant car seat and it's going to go into a toddler seat. The toddler seat is something that has a harness strap or shoulder straps or shields that keep them in the restraint. Then they should move from the toddler seat into a booster seat and then a booster seat into a seat belt. And what we're finding is that parents are skipping that third step, they're taking the child out of the child restraint system when the child reaches 40 pounds and moving them into the seat belt."

She says the booster seats reposition the child to ensure seat belts fit properly -- helping to avoid internal injuries and spinal cord damage in an accident.

"All the booster seats do is they raise the child up, sometimes five to six inches, they reposition that seatbelt so that the lapbelt is down on the hips where it is supposed to be and the shoulder belt comes off at the face or neck and drops down on the shoulder blade.

The campaign funded by the state Department of Transportation will include billboards, posters, placemats, pamphlets and other educational materials.

One of those materials is a standup cardboard cutout that kids can use to measure themselves to see if they are tall enough to ride with just a seat belt.

Pictured on that cutout is Shiloh Christian School fourth grader Taylor Muggerud of Bismarck -- who knows why she became part of the campaign:

"I think I just need to do it because people get really hurt. Some kids really hurt when they don't have a booster seat."