What is more precious to us than our children? And, what is a more important measure of our values than how we take care of our children?
As a mother of three, I cannot imagine an individual tragedy more devastating to a parent than the loss of a child. That is why I am here today, as a parent and member of the National Transportation Safety Board, with so many safety advocates. We are here to educate parents on the importance of properly restraining their children in age and size appropriate child restraints until age 8 in the back seat during every trip.
Since 1996, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that Maryland require child restraint use for children up to age 8. Because this is such an important life-saving issue for the NTSB, in 1997 we placed this recommendation on our Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements.
Thanks to the sponsorship of Delegate Bronrott, Senator Forehand and Lt. Governor Brown in 2002, Maryland was at the forefront of this issued by enacting a child booster seat law protecting children. Unfortunately, the law only applied to children until they turned 6. Children ages 6 and 7 still remained at risk when traveling on Maryland’s highways. This year, Delegate Bronrott and Senator Forehand again sponsored legislation to close the gap in Maryland’s law. Today, we can celebrate the fact that Maryland has joined 20 other States and DC to require child safety seat and booster seat use for children up to age 8.
We understand that many parents and caregivers will face the challenge of having to place children, who have not ridden in a child safety seat or booster seat for some time, back into one of these life saving restraints. As a parent, I know how challenging this will be for many. But I also know that it is the right thing to do and I am confident that parents would rather take this additional safety measure than have to visit their child at Children's Medical Center after the child suffered serious, preventable injuries in a car crash.
In closing I would like to commend Delegate Bronrott, Senator Forehand and Lt. Governor Brown for the critical part they each played in getting this important safety measure passed. We were happy to join them in Annapolis this year to show our support. I would also like to recognize Administrator Pedersen, Mr. Jack Fitzgerald, Mr. Tom Carr, Mrs. Emilie Crown, Ms. Jackie Gillan, and the representatives from the police, fire, rescue and emergency medical agencies that supported the legislative efforts this year as well.