Kids belong in car seats not laps, pt. 1

Now that I am a relative foster parent of two young boys, it seems I am hyper aware of kids riding in unsecure places in their family vehicle. While I am behind the wheel, I see people holding babies in their laps in cars as well as youths about 10 years old sitting in the front seat next to mom or dad. These are dangerous places for kids to be if their ride is involved in a traffic collision. Street Smarts consulted with Chris Cochran, spokesperson for the California Office of Traffic Safety, on this topic. Below is part of our conversation; the second half will appear Thursday. Street Smarts: Do you have any stats for traffic collisions involving children not restrained properly? Cochran: In 2012, there were 18 killed and 459 seriously injured children age 7 and under who were not properly restrained in California. Street Smarts: I was talking to a mom in our sports league about child safety seat laws. Her 8 year old son does not ride in a booster seat because, even though he is not yet 4 ft 9, he weighs 80 lbs. Is that legal? Cochran: The new law actually mandates the proper seat for any child under age eight or 4 ft 9 inches in height, regardless of weight. However, if a child is under 4 ft 9 but over age 8, it is still highly recommended that they stay in a booster seat until they hit that 4 ft 9 mark. Otherwise, the regular seat belts hit them in the wrong place and could severely injure them in a crash if the belt is across the neck rather than the collarbone or across the stomach rather than the hips. On Thursday, Cochran will delve more into the dangers of improperly restrained children involved in traffic collisions. In the meantime, read up on the child passenger law at The fine for improper child seat installation is $100 for the first offense and $250 for each subsequent offense. Meanwhile, parents with questions about car seat installation and child passenger safety can contact their local fire department or the Santa Cruz Area CHP office, 831-662-0511. Information also is available online at and Last word on 'glasphalt' use in Santa Cruz Last week, Street Smarts published a conversation about the sparkling material in some Santa Cruz roads. A reader questioned whether the substance was broken glass. While the city denied the presence of glass, a second reader highlighted a program in which recycled glass was added to asphalt and used to pave roads -- a mixture known as glasphalt. Not so, says the city. "I’m familiar with glasphalt, having used it unsuccessfully on a downtown alley as a streetscape feature some years ago," said Chris Schneiter, assistant public works director. "We ended up paving over it because the glass kept popping out. Interesting idea but the execution wasn’t well done. I confirmed with my local asphalt expert that they have not used recycled glass in their asphalt production for this area for the last 25 years."
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