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Daily Sun photo/Bob Belcher Paula Butler of Texas AgriLife talks about child safety seats during the 'Healthy Woman' series May 20. Butler offers 'fitting' sessions at the courthouse to help parents determine the proper size seat to purchase.

AUSTIN - It’s a common mistake that many parents make — taking their children out of child safety seats too soon and letting them use seat belts before they are tall enough or old enough for seat belts to fit properly. Beginning June 1, that mistake could be a costly one.

A new state law passed last year states all children under 8 years old have to ride in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. Texas legislators gave parents and others who transport children several months to comply with the new requirement. When the grace period for making sure children have the correct safety seat ends May 31, violators face fines of up to $250 plus court costs.

The deadline falls during TxDOT’s annual Click It or Ticket campaign when officers statewide are cracking down on unbuckled drivers and passengers and drivers who don’t properly secure children in their vehicles.

“Safety belts are designed to fit adult bodies,” said Carol T. Rawson, P.E. TxDOT’s traffic operations director. “That’s why children need a booster seat to raise them up so the safety belt fits correctly and gives them maximum protection.”

According to national safety advocates, most children outgrow forward-facing child safety seats around the age of four. That's where booster seats come in. A booster seat does exactly what the name suggests: It boosts your child up so that your vehicle's lap and shoulder belts safely restrain him or her. Without a booster seat, an adult seat belt can actually cause head, neck, spinal and internal injuries in the event of a crash rather than preventing them.

Parents can choose from two main types of booster seats: high-back or chair-style seats. The type that is best for your child depends mainly on what kind of seats you have in your vehicle. Booster seats can be purchased for as little as $15 at discount retailers.

Texas AgriLife agent Paula Butler offers free “fitting sessions” for parents shopping for child car seats and booster seats, to help deterime the proper seat and size. To arrange a fitting session, contact Butler at (903) 654-3075.

For more information about selecting the child safety seat appropriate for your child’s height and weight, visit texasclickitorticket.com.

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