Child safety seat training

Who says Las Vegas is last on every quality-of-life list? While the wet nurses on the Los Angeles City Council were plotting to block the construction of new fast-food restaurants, Reason magazine rated Sin City the best metropolitan area in the country in personal freedom. (Chicago brought up the rear as the nation’s foremost combination of Nanny State intervention and Big Brother regulation.)

Alas, all rankings are relative. Amid a national wave of hand-wringing legislation seeking to save us from ourselves, Las Vegas and Nevada are simply moving toward regulatory dystopia more slowly than other places.

If the 2007 Legislature didn’t provide enough proof of that — failed pushes for a primary seat belt law and mandatory helmet use by children on bicycles — Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, has offered a hint that the 2009 session will take up even more meddlesome causes.

Mr. Carpenter has requested a bill that would require “training in the correct installation of child restraint seats.”

The rules of the Legislative Counsel Bureau prevent the release of information regarding lawmakers’ bill draft requests beyond a broad, descriptive sentence. If you want to learn the legislative intent and details behind a request, you have to get them directly from the lawmaker — and Mr. Carpenter isn’t talking about this bill. He failed to return phone messages left throughout the month of July.

But it doesn’t take a law degree to figure out that Mr. Carpenter wants to bring the wonderful world of heavy-handed instruction to the installation of child car seats.

If you believe the soldiers of the Nanny State, it’s nothing short of a miracle that generations of kids lived long enough to reproduce after childhoods spent crawling around the back seats of family sedans and wagons on the open road. How many of today’s adults, including those in their 20s and 30s, never endured so much as a single ride in a booster seat?

The state already requires youngsters younger than age 6 and weighing 60 pounds or less to be belted into seats — drivers face steep fines and possible suspension of their license if they don’t properly strap in their kids.

This apparently isn’t enough, however. Parents can’t be trusted to follow the law, much less the directions to install the seats to manufacturer specifications. Mr. Carpenter appears to favor having a trained specialist (as recognized by the state) install the seats for parents, or perhaps force parents to take a class on the subject on someone’s dime.

Already, when parents take their newborns home from the hospital, a nurse or other employee verifies that a rear-facing infant seat is correctly installed in the vehicle before discharging the baby. Parents confused about installation directions (or not physically able to tighten straps sufficiently) can go to nearly any fire station and have a firefighter provide assistance. And there’s always a friend or neighbor.

The “safety lobby” is never satisfied with existing law. How long before 13-year-olds are required to ride in the back seat … wearing helmets?

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