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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Booster-seat bill raising age to 8 goes to governor

 •  Legislature approves privatization bill
 •  Charter school bill passes amid criticism
 •  Storm of opposition forces House to pull airport bill

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Transportation Writer

A bill that would require car booster seats for children 8 years and younger or who weigh less than 80 pounds barely made it through the Legislature yesterday.

The Senate passed House Bill 135 by a 13-12 vote. The bill, which did pass handily in the House, now needs the approval of Gov. Ben Cayetano.

State law already requires car safety seats for children younger than 4 years old. Police have maintained that seat belts are not designed for small children and can cause internal injuries in an accident if not worn correctly.

Last year, the state of Washington was the first to enact a law mandating the use of booster seats for children after a 4-year-old boy died after being thrown from a vehicle when he slid out of his seat belt.

While many state lawmakers spoke yesterday in favor of the booster seat bill, others felt the measure would overregulate safety.

"Sooner or later, we're all going to have to carry our car seats around," said Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th (Wai'alae Iki, Hawai'i Kai) while wearing a bicycle safety helmet to make his point.

"This is parental responsibility, not something for government to decide," said Sen. Avery Chumbley, D-6th (E. Maui, N. Kaua'i).

The other transportation-related bills that passed yesterday are:

• House Bill 123, which imposes a $250 fine for motorists who speed through school zones or construction areas. The state Department of Transportation and counties would set the school speed limits.

• House Bill 1686, which authorizes issuance of special facility revenue bonds for improvements to harbor facilities to allow the operation of a private inter-island and intra-island ferry service.

Measures that didn't pass include:

• Child passengers in truck beds, which would have increased the age limit in which children are prohibited from riding in the back of pickup trucks from 12 years old to 17 years old.

• Driving curfew for teens, which would have requiring all drivers under age 18 to be accompanied by a licensed driver older than 21 when driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

• Pedestrian "Bill of Rights," which would have required drivers to yield for pedestrians in intersections and crosswalks.

• Uninsured vehicles, which would have established a computer database for insured motor vehicles and authorized the license revocation and license plate confiscation for uninsured vehicles.