After a sometimes emotional debate, a bill that would raise the minimum age for children not to use a car seat when riding in a vehicle to 9 passed the Georgia House of Representatives. The bill would also impose fines on parents caught not strapping their young children into car seats.
The 129-43 vote sends the bill to the Senate. According to an article in the Augusta Chronicle, House Republicans were split on the bill. Some argued that it was a necessary safety measure to protect children from death and serious injury in a car accident. Other Republicans, particularly freshman representatives who were elected as part of the tea party movement, objected to what they characterized as a “nanny state” regulation.
Longtime Human Services Chairwoman Penny Houston, R-Nashville, strongly denied that was the purpose of the bill. She said the charge that the measure was a “nanny bill” made her emotional.
Under the terms of the bill, children age 8 and younger would be required to ride in a car seat. Currently, the law only requires car seats for children age 4 and under. Parents would be fined $50 if caught driving with a child not in a car seat. A second offense would cost $100.
Rep. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, who is a physician and car accident lawyer, said he was initially unsure about the bill, but said he supported it because it would save taxpayers money on medical costs. The bill would lead to fewer uninsured children being injured in car accidents, he said.