Doctors and nurses say Kentucky seat belt law dangerously insufficient
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Local doctors and nurses are saying children's lives are at stake and Kosair Children's Hospital is among those begging Frankfort to fix a law they say is broken.
Sharon Renger is a nurse by trade and parent at heart.
"I would like to say sit in the emergency rooms so you can see it happens frequently," She said.
Renger says she is chilled by the critical number of kids being rushed to Kosair Children's Hospital after car wrecks. The hospital reports more than 3,000 in the last three years.
But it's not the numbers that trouble her most, it's how many of those kids suffer a preventable trauma.
"The seatbelts don't fit them properly," explained Renger. "When they're sitting in the seat the shoulder belt will go across their neck -- then they slump down in the seat to feel comfortable and the lap belt runs high into their abdomen."
As a result, "They have injuries to their abdomen, they have internal bleeding. Children can have lung contusions. There's a wide variety of injuries some are left with permanent disabilities from the accident," said Kosair Children's Hospital ICU and U of L Physician Michael Ruppe.
Kentucky law says kids have to ride in a booster seat until they're seven-years-old and 4'2".
A bill in Frankfort would add two years and seven more inches to the requirement, which would bring Kentucky's law in line with all the other surrounding states. The bill has cleared the house and died in the Senate five years in a row.
Representative Steve Riggs (D-Louisville) sponsored the latest installment, House Bill 315.
"They (KY Senators) believe that it's too much government interference in many cases and that parents should know the right thing to do anyway," Riggs said.
He's trying to change the debate from child safety to policy. "We have a law in place but it's broken and needs to be fixed."
But it's the last full week of the session and members in the Senate Transportation Committee told WDRB's Gilbert Corsey the measure is not on the agenda.
Renger's hoping for a final push, saying a bill left to die on the vine may mean child's lives.
"I'll keep going until they get it right," she said.
Senate President Robert Stivers did not return our messages on this story.
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