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California Vehicle Code section 27315(d)(1) states: “A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person and all passengers 16 years of age or over are properly restrained by a safety belt.”

California Vehicle Code section 27360(b)(1) states: “A driver may not transport on a highway a child in a motor vehicle, as defined in Section 27315, without properly securing the child in a rear seat in a child passenger restraint system meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards, unless the child is one of the following: (A) Six years of age or older.(B) Sixty pounds or more.”

These rules were put in place to protect young children from injury or death in the event of a collision with another vehicle. Children must rely on the adults around them to ensure their safety and so California decided to put common sense into law.

It’s strictly a physics lesson, a body in motion will stay in motion until something interrupts it. It may not always feel like it, but your body is moving at the same speed as the vehicle that you are in. When the vehicle stops suddenly, your body keeps going forward until something gets in the way (like the windshield). Safety belts are a good solution to this problem, instead of continuing forward, a belt across your shoulder and across your lap keep your body from flinging forward out of the seat. Airbags are a safety feature meant to work in conjunction with the safety belt. Inevitably, your body does move forward somewhat and sometimes the shoulder harness doesn’t lock and you end up bending forward at the waist. The airbag is there to absorb the impact of your body so that you don’t smack into the hard steering wheel or console.

Airbags deploy with a great deal of force because speed changes rapidly and engineers know that every millisecond counts during an accident. Because airbags are meant to absorb most of the force of a sudden stop, the speed at which they inflate is geared toward how fast your body is moving forward. If your body is being held back by, oh, let’s say… a safety belt, the airbags of today know that they can take their time inflating and open with less force because of sensors in the vehicle. If a person isn’t wearing their safety belt, the airbag knows it has to stop your body right away and deploys with more force.

The less force when an airbag is deployed, the less likely it is to cause injury to the passengers. This incredibly smart tool had tragic consequences yesterday when a

five-year-old boy, Alexander Martinez, was killed while he was sitting in his grandmother’s lap

. The grandmother wasn’t wearing a safety belt, but even if she had been, the boy was still in a very dangerous position. Alexander’s grandmother must now live with the fact that her grandson my have been alive today if she had belted him into a child safety seat like the law says she should have.

She may face criminal charges.

More than that, she is liable for the death of her grandson according to California Vehicle Code section 17150: “Every owner of a motor vehicle is liable and responsible for death or injury to person or property resulting from a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the operation of the motor vehicle, in the business of the owner or otherwise, by any person using or operating the same with the permission, express or implied, of the owner.”

The investigation is still ongoing.

The police are looking into drugs or alcohol being a connection

, as well as the possibility of defective machinery.

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