In Alaska, car seat laws protect passengers and ensure they are as prepared as possible for potential accidents. The implementation of booster seat laws and other legislation related to seat restraints have reduced death rates and increased the number of drivers and passengers wearing seat belts in the state.

While national laws dictate that drivers and adult passengers in the front seats of all vehicles must wear safety restraints, state rules for child restraints vary. To determine whether your child or teen needs to be in a car seat or booster, you should review the following sections.

The information below will list booster seat age requirements, explain how to install various restraints and detail the penalties you may face if you violate a passenger restraint law. From media campaigns to enforcement programs, AK takes car seat safety for all residents of the state and strives to make restraints accessible and commonly used.

What are the car seat laws in Alaska?

The AK car seat laws require all passengers, including drivers, to wear a seat belt regardless of the seat or position in which they are sitting. Additionally, depending on the booster seat weight,  children ages eight and younger who have outgrown car seats must be seated in a booster, but children younger than eight years old for whom seat belts fit correctly without a booster may sit without it.

The car seat regulations apply to all children younger than four years old whereas seat belt laws apply to all passengers older than 16 years old while they are driving or being driven on a highway by a driver with a valid license. A list of the car seat ages that may require children to be secured in an appropriate safety restraint by federal and state laws in AK is as follows:

  • From birth to 12 months old, children must be harnessed in a rear-facing seat.
  • From one to three years old, children can be secured in a forward- or rear-facing seat.
  • From four to seven years old, children should be secured using a seat belt with a booster seat.
  • From eight to 12 years old, children must be restrained using a seat belt, but a booster seat may be optional.

The National Highway Safety Administration recommends that parents keep children in a suitable car seat until they are at least 12 years old and have exceeded the maximum height and weight requirements for the seat’s manufacturer. Still, exemptions to these laws exist.

For instance, the use of car seats or other safety devices in vehicles is not mandatory if the passenger or driver suffers from a medical condition or is significantly restricted or deemed unable to drive due to vehicle restraints.

However, alternate safety devices may be required in these instances. Also, parents should remember that the safest place for children in any vehicle is in the back seats.

Note: The above guidelines may depend on other factors, including car seat weight and height requirements, which may affect children’s ability to sit in a seat without needing assistance. Average weight and height information for each age group was used.

Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in Alabama

Drivers and passengers who break booster seat weight requirements and other restraint laws may overlook the consequences, but they are at risk of injuries and fines. Since 1989, AK has been issuing traffic citations to violators of child car seat laws in the form of fines and other penalties.

Police efforts construct checkpoints, introduce saturation patrols and involve targeting practices to find the drivers and passengers most likely to commit violations. Therefore, any driver who operates his/her vehicle while passengers are not properly restrained can expect to receive a citation. If found guilty, drivers may face fines up to $50 and additional punishments for repeated offenses.

Types of Car Seats

The best car seats available in AK may vary for each child. While one type of seat may be the safest car seats for some children, it may not be appropriate for all children. A list of the five main types of child restraints is provided below:

  1. The rear-facing car seat designed for smaller children and infants.
  2. The forward facing car seat for children who have outgrown the rear-facing seat.
  3. The convertible car seat which can be adjusted in the above two types.
  4. The booster seat for children who cannot use a seat belt.
  5. The seat belt that protects older children and adults from accidents.

From an infant car seat to a toddler car seat, numerous options are available, so parents must make sure they purchase the correct restraint for their children. A few of the most popular brands include Graco, Britax and Chicco.

These restraints may come with top-of-the-line features such as cup holders, extra padding and simple straps to help with installation. Regardless of the brand parents choose, taking the time to research child car seat safety and product reviews is advised.

Car Seat Installation Information

When driving, the last concern on drivers’ minds should be the security of a child car seat, so understanding how to effectively install a child restraint is essential. According to AK car seat rules, restraints and other safety devices may be distributed via the state loan program, but the installation of the devices is drivers’ responsibility. Car seat installation tips to help parents and drivers safely install child restraints are listed below:

  • When installing a booster seat, parents need to check how the seat belt fits. They can buckle the seat belt over the booster, car seat or other child restraint to test for the correct fit. They should see the lap section of the belt sitting lowly on the child’s thighs and the shoulder section resting next to the child’s neck. If no seat belt is required for installation, then parents are encouraged to check the harnesses and straps provided with the product.
  • Parents should fully read the instructions. Car seat installation steps are clearly printed on the product or on a sheet included with the product. These should help parents secure the seat and identify any faults (if applicable).
  • If parents are confused or feel they cannot properly install the product on their own, they should ask for assistance. Safety inspection stations specifically for car seats are located throughout the state. During inspections, experts will determine if children are using the appropriate restraint, if the seat is installed correctly and if the restraint has been recalled or considered ineffective.
Last updated on Wednesday, September 23 2020.