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New law requires kids to be belted

June 30, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

If you get stopped by a Maryland State Police trooper over the next few months for a traffic violation and your infant is not in a child-safety seat, you might get a ticket or you might get a warning.

You'll definitely get a sheet of paper explaining the importance of the devices and a friendly reminder that police will start cracking down when a new law takes effect in October.

Presently, police can only write tickets for not having child-safety seats if motorists commit another traffic offense. But a new law passed earlier this year will allow officers to pull over cars if they see the offense. The same applies for people not wearing seat belts.

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"I've instructed all the troopers to issue one of these sheets," said Lt. R. Bruce Tanner, commander of the Hagerstown barrack.

Tanner, who said troopers have been handing out the education sheets statewide for about two weeks, stressed the importance of getting into the habit of wearing seat belts at all times.

"We want to educate the public and take a two-pronged approach of enforcement and education so that when Oct. 1 rolls around, people will know, `Hey, I can be stopped for this,'" he said.

Maryland law requires children younger than 4 or anyone who weighs less than 40 pounds, to be secured in a child-safety seat. Children younger than 16 who weigh more than 40 pounds must be buckled in.

Also, a child younger than 16 cannot ride in an unenclosed cargo bed of a pickup truck.

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