Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Of kiddie car seats and Moonbeams

December 29, 2011 | 12:00 pm

Parents, plug your ears: The Wall Street Journal points out Thursday that the Golden State's roads are going to be Scream Central starting Sunday, when a new law goes into effect raising the age and/or size requirement for children's car seats. Currently, the law requires kids under 6, or who weigh less than 60 pounds, to be strapped into booster seats. Under the new law, they have to stay in car seats until they turn 8, or grow taller than 4 feet 9 inches. Parents of 6- and 7-year-olds (there are 1.1 million of them in the state), who thought they had graduated to regular seats, now have to find a way to break it to their kids that they're back in the penalty box ... er ... kid's chair.

The law isn't a bad idea, and California is only doing what 29 other states have already done by raising the requirement to 8 -- that's the standard recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for maximum safety. Somehow, though, I suspect that logic will escape the average 7-year-old who thought they could sit in the big-boy or big-girl chairs like a grownup, only to be busted down to the minor leagues.

More to the point, though, the logic of Gov. Jerry Brown's veto decisions is escaping me.

This fall, Brown vetoed a bill that would have required kids under 18 to wear helmets while snow skiing or face a $25 fine. As we've said on the editorial page, this would have helped prevent serious injury or brain damage on the slopes. Brown's justification: "I am concerned about the continuing and seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state." This not only ignores that child-safety laws are commonplace (there's already a law on the books requiring minors to wear bicycle helmets, for example) and effective, it's logically inconsistent. As my colleague Karin Klein has pointed out, after Brown vetoed the helmet bill, he signed a bill outlawing the use of tanning beds by minors even if they have their parents' consent. What is that, if not a transfer of authority from parents to the state?

Which brings us back to the child-seat law, another effort by the state to mandate parental decisions in the name of safety, and which Brown, despite his high-minded principles, didn't seem to be bothered about.

Sometimes when a kid kicks and screams over minor frustrations, such as being put in an uncomfortable car seat, the best response is to lay him down for a nap. The next time the governor is tempted to veto a worthwhile bill, he should maybe do the same.


The 10 most viewed Op-Eds of 2011

Photos: Ted Rall's 10 most popular cartoons of 2011

Year in review: California budget, L.A. pro team, GOP triple threat

-- Dan Turner

Photo: Don't tell this kid, but she's not getting out until she's 8. Credit: Associated Press

Comments ()