On March 8, a Bill that would bring Tennessee’s car seat laws into agreement with recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was en route to the desk of Governor Bill Haslam to be signed into law. Just two days later, the Tennessee House of Representatives pulled their approval in a rare move on the pretext that further clarification was needed.
While this Bill is solely concerning the safety of children not an issue of political stance, the Democrats argued that the move to pull the Bill was nothing more than political posturing, and indicative that Republicans are moving bills through the legislation without properly debating their merits. Republicans fought back, saying that the recall was an effort to revisit issues with the bill that generated concern among their constituents.
Representative John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, who sponsored the bill, took the floor after the House pulled their approval. He attempted to clarify the intent of the Bill and get the legislation back on track. Clemmons believes that the language of the Bill has been misinterpreted, and that the intention to protect Tennessee’s children is clear and necessary.
At the root of the political debate is a provision concerning booster seats. The Tennessean reports, “He [Clemmons] said there was a miscommunication that a child had to be in a booster seat until age 12. Clemmons said children who may be older than 8 but are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches are at risk of decapitation because of the height of the rear seatbelt. He said that safety experts wanted the current age cap bumped from 8 to 12 in order to protect late-growing children.”
Everyone else agrees
Clemmons’ Bill seeks to enforce legislation that is in agreement with both the NHTSA’s guidelines and the recommendations of pediatricians and pediatric hospitals around the country. Neil Stinson, RN, EMT at the pediatric emergency room at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital told ABC News 2 Nashville, “For the shorter, smaller child, the ones that weigh less, to raise them up off the car seat a little bit onto the booster so that the seat belt crosses them around the chest and not around the neck, you would save dozens of lives per year.”
And there we have it. The recommendations of pediatric specialists locally and nationally, in agreement with the NHTSA, are apparently insufficient reason for our state lawmakers to put aside politics and keep our children safe. While our politicians form a subcommittee to debate the merits of federal recommendations, we at Rocky McElhaney Law invite you to visit the NHTSA’ safercar.gov to learn how to keep your children safe on the road.
We fight daily for the rights of victims of negligence and bad judgment. We always hope that reason will prevail over politics, but we fight daily to correct injustice. If you or someone you know has been the victim of injustice or negligence, the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm can fight for you. Visit us in Nashville, Gallatin, or Knoxville, or contact us today or call 615.246.5549 for a free consultation with a skilled Tennessee auto accident attorney today.