Saratoga County car seat safety experts urge parents to prepare for law change

September 18, 2019 07:04 PM

BALLSTON SPA - Just when adults thought they had child car seats figured out, the law is changing.

It used to be a recommendation to have kids who are 1-year old or younger in a rear-facing seat.


Beginning November 1st, it'll be state law to have kids 2 and younger to be in seats that face the back.

Cynthia Dort, occupant protection educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County, says research shows children often suffer serious trauma when front-facing.

"They're critically injured or even fatally injured because the neck and the spine will snap, because you're going forward and if they're not strong enough to withstand that crash force, the first that's going to go is the neck or the spine."

The law dictates that after turning 2, children can sit in a front-facing seat, but Dort recommends keeping kids rear-facing as long as they fit, even if their legs start climbing up the seatback.

"They don't mind putting their feet up, or criss-crossing them. Us as adults have a hard time with that because we go, 'Oh, they're uncomfortable, they want to see forward,' but you know that's all they've known."

Matthew's grandmother, Katherine Richiazzi, says she doesn't mind keeping him rear-facing as long as it keeps him safer.

"Anytime they make changes like this it's because there's been studies. Kids have obviously been hurt and they're looking to try to make it better."

Dort reminds us that more than 90-percent of car seats are installed incorrectly and that she and her colleagues - some of whom made a lip sync video to raise awareness - are eager to help at install events around the region.

"We want you to leave there feeling confident you can keep your child safe."

A car seat install event will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Clifton Park-Halfmoon EMS. No appointments are necessary. There will be a similar event in the Crossgates Mall overflow lot on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Mark Mulholland

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