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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Another seat-belt bill crashed Tuesday in the Utah House of Representatives.
Calling the proposed law heavy handed, House Republicans put a stop in committee to a bill that would have mandated booster seats for children under 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall.
It was the second time Republicans loosened an effort by Rep. Carol Moss, D-Holladay, to tighten Utah's seat belt law. The House last week killed her bill that would have allowed police to cite unbelted adult passengers, not just a driver who first gets pulled over for another violation.
This bill sought to fill the gap in law that requires no special restraint for children between 5 and 8 years old.
Utah law requires that any passenger under 16 be belted, with children under 5 using a special restraint seat, but leaves children 5 and older vulnerable to injury from adult seat belts.
Booster seats running $7 for a simple pedestal to $200 for adjustable high-back models can prevent those kids from getting hurt in an accident, said Janet Brooks, child advocacy manager at Primary Children's Medical Center.
It happens all the time, said Dr. Howard Corneli, a pediatrician at the same hospital who said young children can suffer "submarining injuries" from ill-fitting seat belts.
Under Moss' bill, drivers could have been fined $45.
"We are not stupid mothers," said Krystin Morley, Spanish Fork, who has nine children and a variety of child seats in her Ford Excursion sport-utility vehicle. "We love our children and are going to make sure they are safe. We don't need any more laws."
Utah's big families can have more kids than seat belts and may not be able to afford buying a restraint or booster seat for each, Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka said.
Parents who take turns driving neighborhood children to school can face the same problem, said Rep. Todd Kiser, R-Sandy, who also has nine children.
School and transit buses have no belts or booster seats, said Ruzicka, who has three booster seats for seven grandchildren. She called an everybody-buckle-up law unrealistic and urged lawmakers to kill it.
The House Transportation Committee obliged, voting 5-3 along party lines.
"Law is the rule of force. It's not a gentle safety reminder," said Rep. John Dougall, R-American Fork.
After her second defeat, Moss said Utah's Republicans are willing to force schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance but balk at making sure children use a proper car seat. Her third and final seat-belt bill, still pending, would close the loophole that allows more children in a vehicle than available seat belts.
She maintains Utah Republicans are out of step with public sentiment and that when it comes to safety, parents look to the law for guidance.
Her reference to the Pledge of Allegiance bill deals with the Republican-led bill to require junior high and high schools to set aside time each week for the pledge.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)