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State House ceremony celebrates child restraint effort aimed at keeping youngsters safe

CONCORD — A ceremony marking the earlier signing of a bill that changes the state’s requirements for children riding in automobiles has held Tuesday in Executive Council Chambers.

The new law requires children up to age 7 or 57 inches, whichever is first, to be in a child restraint seat while traveling in a motor vehicle.

The upgrade was championed by Safe Kids NH, along with the NH Driving Toward Zero Deaths Coalition (NHDTZ) and other groups.

The change will affect 15,000 children in the state.

Jim Esdon, Safe Kids NH coordinator said, “This legislation will help ensure that more children are riding safely and help keep them from being severely injured or worse in a car crash.”

Rep. Sally Kelly, D-Chichester, was the prime sponsor of the law change.

“I am proud to have been the prime sponsor to increase the age of children using safety seats from the present age six and younger to age seven,” said Kelly. “Although this is an incremental step toward the national best practice of requiring restraints for children up to age eight or 57 inches tall, we are pleased that this will protect more children in New Hampshire.”

Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death and injury among children ages 1 to 19. Of children under age 18 who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2011, 43 percent were unrestrained.

The new law takes effect on Jan. 1.

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