Meryl writes regularly over at Six Decades and Counting about relationships, travel, food and whatever else interests her. This post was originally featured there.
In September 2015 New Jersey passed a revised law regarding children and car seats. This law mandates rear-facing car seats with 5-point harness for children under the age of two weighing 30 pounds or less. Toddlers under four years and 40 pounds can be positioned in a forward-facing seat with 5-point harness. Children under eight and 57 inches in height require a booster seat and seat belt.
My question: One of the challenges of becoming a senior citizen is a diminution in height. What happens when senior citizens, and specifically this writer, fall below the 57-inch threshold?
Will seniors need booster seats?
Nothing in the law mentions seniors. But the time may come so many folks have difficulty peering over the steering wheel or, settled in the back seat, disappear from view, government groups and geriatric associations, concerned about the welfare of their constituency, investigate the implications of the downsizing of people like me. Fearing seniors face the same dire consequences as unrestrained children should an accident occur, lawmakers could require safety seats for seniors.
I am taller than 57 inches by 5 inches, all of 5 feet 2 inches tall. Or short, depending on one’s perspective. I foresee the time the top of my head barely scrapes the 5-foot marker on my doctor’s scale, and possibly less, meaning 57” is not out of the realm of possibility within the next couple of decades.
Will I eventually need a booster seat? I own a car seat, useful when the grandkids visit. I assumed it would be given away when the kids outgrew it, but maybe I should keep it.
On the other hand the reality is a seat designed for kids, cushioned and spacious as it may be, will not be wide enough for my derriere. Seniors shrink down, closer to earth, and many (including me) expand outward in strategic places.
Consider the ramifications.
Will police ticket short seniors? The state of Florida may have to be placed under protective custody until this seat thing is figured out. How often driving around the state do you wonder if anyone is behind the wheel of a nearby vehicle?
This may become a national issue. Will Congress mandate the use of booster seats for seniors in taxis, buses and limousines? Must senior seats be inspected and meet certain guidelines?
Will we need to stock extra seats so friends can drive with us? Or will we carry around our own personal seat, a lightweight, collapsible model in a handsomely designed, monogrammed case?
Catchy slogans for senior drivers and passengers, urging everyone to safely secure their boosters, will appear in ads and magazines such as AARP. For example,
Sit Down and You’re Almost Standing Up!
Can you see me now?
How about borrowing the American Express slogan to remind people to take their seat wherever they go – Don’t leave home without it!
I look forward to seeing short actors and actresses – Danny DeVito, Jerry Stiller, Linda Hunt, Betty White – in public service ads discussing the importance of buckling boosters while the performers do just that and drive off into the sunset.