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Not everyone pleased with proposal for stricter car seat laws

CARSON CITY — Bri-Ann Szelestey says seat belts saved her family from injury when their minivan was rear-ended by a drunk driver on New Year’s Eve.

She and her husband were in the front with 8-year-old Bailey buckled in the third row, 5-year-old Christian in a booster seat and 2-year-old Lexie in a car seat in the middle row.

“Everybody’s seat worked the way it was supposed to,” Szelestey said Thursday as she picked up her older two children from Fyfe Elementary School.

Even so, Szelestey says a measure increasing how long children are supposed to be buckled into a child restraint system is ridiculous.

“They are in their seat belts, they sit legs forward, seat belts on,” she said.

Senate Bill 156 would require children under age 8 and less than 57 inches tall to be secured in a restraint system, an expansion from the current law that covers children under age 6. A weight limit factor would be eliminated. The bill also would require children under 13 to ride in the back seat.

The bill would bring Nevada in line with national standards and requirements in 23 other states, a legislative panel was told Thursday.

With Christian already outgrowing a booster seat, Szelestey is worried she will be ticketed for not keeping her son in a car seat longer.

Gissela Alvarez, waiting to pick up 8-year-old daughter Lizly Hernandez, said the measure is a great idea.

“There’s a lot of accidents that involve kids,” she said.

Alvarez said she doesn’t remember exactly when Lizly came out of the car seat, but she remembers a summer when Lizly grew real tall, real fast and couldn’t fit anymore. She sits in the back seat now, always buckled, but she’s already trying to move up front.

“I tell her the seat in the front is for my purse,” Alvarez said.

The Calito family would be “inconvenienced,” by the bill, Javier Calito said. His youngest daughter, Genesis, is 7, and the family has already gotten rid of their old car and booster seats. As with Alvarez, Calito and his wife, Valerie, said height, not age, determined when they deemed their children ready to be without a car seat.

“Our kids are above-average size,” Valerie said. “We took them out when the straps on the car seat didn’t fit on the shoulders anymore.”

Potential lifesaver

Jeanne Cosgrove Marsala, representing Safe Kids Clark County, said front seat air bags can kill children under age 13, but there is no prohibition in Nevada law requiring children to ride in the back seat.

The bill is needed to improve child safety in Nevada, bill sponsor Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, told the Assembly Transportation Committee. No immediate action was taken on the measure.

Nevada law deems it a primary offense allowing for a traffic stop and citation if a child under 6 is not properly secured in a vehicle. The bill would expand the primary offense to children under age 13.

The bill would allow a citation to be issued to a parent or guardian riding in a vehicle as a passenger where a child was not properly restrained.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter. Contact Meghin Delaney at mdelaney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

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