SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Bay Area parents are being reminded of a new statewide child safety measure taking effect at the beginning of the new year.

Starting Jan. 1, 2012, children are required to be strapped into booster seats, until the age of 8. Previously, booster seats were mandated only for kids until they reached age 6 or 60 lbs., whichever came first.

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“The booster seats increase their chances of surviving a crash by 45%,” reasoned Carol Powers, who runs a child passenger safety program at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. “In the world of statistics, that’s huge.”

Positioning of the lap belt is key.

“The lap belt rides on the top of the thighs and that’s because if they ever need their belt you want it to go onto the hip bone,” Powers explained.

If the belt shifts above the hip bone during an accident, a child is at risk for damage to internal organs, the spine or fatal injuries.

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“I think it’s a great law,” one East Bay mom enthused. “I think kids that are not able to wear the seatbelt properly should stay in their car seat longer, even though it is 8.”

“You have to have your kids safe,” added a father.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

Violators risk a fine of more than $400, in addition to a point on their driving record.

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