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Two Franklin County police departments are making the required,hard-to-find booster seats available to local parents.

Two Franklin County police departments are making the required,hard-to-find booster seats available to local parents.

March 19, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

It worked well with bicycle helmets, so why not booster seats?

At least that was the thinking of Chief Barry Keller of the Washington Township Police Department when he ordered 48 of the small plastic seats from a Seattle company.

A new state law went into effect on Feb. 21 that requires children between the ages of 4 and 7 to sit in booster seats when riding in motor vehicles.

Proponents of the law say booster seats save young lives and prevent injuries.

Seat belts are designed for adults who average 180 pounds and stand 5 feet 10 inches tall. They ride up too high on young children and not only don't provide adequate protection in crashes but can injure children as well, proponents said.

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The answer is booster seats, larger than baby seats that infants and toddlers ride in, but big enough to keep older children secured safely, proponents said.

So far, 15 states have laws similar to Pennsylvania's and others are considering them.

Breaking the booster seat law is a secondary violation that carries fines for drivers of up to $103.50, according to Trooper Ed Asbury, spokesman for Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg, Pa. The fine will be refunded if the driver buys a booster seat and shows a receipt to the court, he said.

The law will be enforced only when police stop drivers for other violations.

Not only have booster seats been hard to find in area stores they can be expensive, too - from $50 to $80 or more.

Keller, with help from Chief Ray Schultz of the Waynesboro Police Department and the local chamber of commerce, decided to help.

In the late 1990s, when bicycle helmets began to be required for children, Keller found a company in Seattle with models that met safety codes and sold for around $5. He ordered them for the police department and ended up selling several hundred.

When he learned that the Seattle company offered a booster seat that met the safety code and sold for $12, he ordered four dozen.

The booster seats are available in the Washington Township Police Department on Welty Road, the Waynesboro Police Department in Borough Hall and at the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce at 323 E. Main St.

"When we run low, we'll order 48 more," Keller said.

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