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State

New child passenger safety law takes effect in 2019

Children younger than 2 must be in rear-facing car seats

Parents of toddlers will want to take notice.

Beginning Jan. 1, a new law will require children under the age of 2 to be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is more than 40 inches tall — or riding in a vehicle that weights more than 9,000 pounds.

House Bill 4377 passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support.

A 2007 study in the Injury Prevention Journal found that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are in rear-facing seats, according to a press release issued by Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, who co-sponsored the bill.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states rear-facing child safety seats give better support to the head, neck and spine of infants by distributing the force of the collision over the entire body.

A $75 fine may be issued for the first violation and a $200 fine for a second violation, according to the law.

The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act also reminds parents or legal guardians it is their responsibility to secure children under the age of 8 in an appropriate child restraint system that fits the child; fits the vehicle; and is used according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

“Public safety is our number one priority. This new law will ensure our children are safe should disaster strike,” Hastings said in a press statement. “Car crashes remain the leading cause of death for children under the age of 13. It is absolutely imperative that we do whatever we can as lawmakers to save lives.”

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