Ontario parents: are you ready for the new booster seat law?

GUELPH, ON, Aug. 26, 2005 — As many as 900,000 Ontario children aged four to nine are at risk of serious injury or death because they are not using a booster seat.

Their parents and caregivers could face fines of $110 and two demerit points if their children do not use booster seats. Effective September 1, a new Ontario law will make booster seats mandatory for all children until they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Child turns eight years old;

  • Child weighs 36 kg (80 lbs); or

  • Child is 145 cm (4’9″) tall.

Booster seats are for kids who have outgrown car seats but are too young or too small to use a regular seat belt. They position the child safely to avoid injuries from lap and shoulder belts that are designed for adults.

“Booster seats provide 60 per cent more protection than seat belts alone,” explains Valerie Lee, Executive Director of the Infant & Toddler Safety Association (ITSA). “Until nine or 10 years of age, it is nearly impossible for a child to maintain correct lap-belt positioning over the upper thighs. This can lead to serious internal injury and spinal damage as the belt rides up on the abdomen.”

To help keep kids safe, The Co-operators holds free car-seat clinics in a number of communities throughout Canada. Trained inspectors install child car seats and booster seats, and help educate drivers on their proper use. Last year, only 20 per cent of the 500 seats checked at clinics were properly installed.

“Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for children ages one to nine. Yet 75 per cent of such deaths and serious injuries are preventable with the correct use of child restraints,” said Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators. “Our car seat inspectors can help make sure your little ones are protected.”

The Co-operators, in collaboration with ITSA and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, produced “Boost Me Up!”, a DVD for children and educational guide for caretakers. Launched earlier this year, “Boost Me Up!” has been distributed to all elementary schools and public health units in the province.

The Co-operators has also produced bilingual bookmarks and posters designed to encourage and remind children to always use their booster seat.

To order these items free of charge, and for more information about booster seats, please visit www.cooperators.ca.

About The Co-operators:

Based in Guelph, The Co-operators is a group of Canadian companies focussing on home, auto, life, group, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products and property management and development. Owned by 31 Canadian co-operative organizations, The Co-operators provides insurance protection to more than two million Canadians and has assets of $6 billion.

About the Infant & Toddler Safety Association:

ITSA is a volunteer-run registered charity. Since its inception in 1980, ITSA has been dedicated to protecting those who cannot protect themselves, our children. ITSA is recognized nationally for its leadership role in developing and delivering car-seat training programs, in developing sources for car-seat inspection clinics, and in assisting individuals and community groups. Staffed entirely by volunteers, ITSA’s information line responds to over 12,000 questions annually — 70 per cent pertaining to proper installation and use of children’s car seats.