Alabama Car Seat Laws
Car seat laws are applicable to many children in the U.S. and protect them from incurring serious injuries or dying due to vehicle accidents.
Alabama booster seat laws and other pertinent regulations clearly list age, weight and height requirements for children passengers and have been effective since 1982, but the laws have only been improving over the years. While the booster seat age may vary in different states, it is essential for parents to properly secure their children when they are in moving vehicles of any kind.
The following sections detail how car seat safety rules are enforced and helpful in AL and how the simple act of buckling a child in a seat can ensure their survival in the event of some crashes or accidents. To learn which state laws and regulations may apply to your children and how to prevent disasters on the road, you should review the material provided below.
What are the car seat laws in Alabama?
National car seat guidelines are currently in effect in AL, but parents may encounter state-specific criteria that may differ from federal guidelines. State-specific rules are dependent on the booster seat weight and the age of the children affected. A list of all national and state requirements is as follows:
- Age restrictions for child restraints. In AL, children between the ages of one and 15 years old must be restrained in some way. However, newborns and infants younger than one year old must be in a convertible seat in a rear-facing position whereas children ages one through five can be in a front-facing seat. The car seat ages require five- and six-year-old children to be retrained in a booster seat, but any child older than six years old may be in seat belts only.
- Weight restrictions for child restraints. In addition to age, children must meet car seat weight requirements that dictate infants and babies younger than one and less than 20 pounds must be in the proper seat and that babies and children younger than five years old and less than 40 pounds can be facing forward. Any child older than six and weighing more than 40 pounds does not need to sit in a car or booster seat.
- Height restrictions for child restraints. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), additional height restrictions apply to children between the ages of four and eight years old. A child in this age-range may be exempt from car seat regulations if he/she is at least 4’9” tall.
These laws may be amended as new information is discovered or federal guidelines are adjusted, but drivers should always ensure they secure all children passengers in the appropriate restraint based on their age, weight and height.
Additionally, drivers are encouraged to use their best judgment when it comes to booster seat weight requirements and other regulations since some children may benefit from being restrained in the vehicle despite their ages, weights or heights.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in Alabama
Child car seat laws are enforced strongly in AL. Drivers who violate any car seat rule in the state may face penalties such as fines and loss of driving privileges. Typically, the fine for citations is $25 and is given to any driver who does not fully restrain children passengers.
All citations are primary offenses. This means that any law enforcement officer can legally pull over drivers suspected of operating their vehicles while children younger than 15 years old are not restrained.
Types of Car Seats
All car seats are designed to hold children in the vehicle, protect them from being dislodged or removed from the vehicle, absorb impact force and prevent the effects of an accident from injuring the children. However, not all seats are the safest car seats for every child. In fact, various types of restraints exist that have unique benefits to different children. To find the best car seats for your child, you should refer to this list of the available types of seats you can get:
- Rear facing car seat. This type of infant car seat shelters children from dangerous airbags and other hazards.
- Forward facing car seat. Children who have outgrown the back-facing seats can use these for added mobility.
- Convertible car seat. These seats are easily adaptable for growing children and can be positioned in front-facing or rear-facing angles.
- Booster seats. Older children who do not need as many harnesses and can hold their own body weight may prefer using simple boosters to help seat belts fit more comfortably.
These restraints are meant to supplement seat belts and can be purchased at countless retailers. Popular brands include Britax, Cybex and Nuna, but you can find other off-brand options as well.
Car Seat Installation Information
Understanding the car seat installation process is vital for children’s safety. The incorrect installation of car seats can cause the seats to move or unhook during a commute, which may endanger the children restrained in them. Therefore, you are advised to use these tips on installing all types of seats before attempting to install them in your vehicle:
- Thoroughly read the instructions. Car seat installation instructions accompany every new seat you purchase and fully outline the construction and installation process. Before removing any parts, you should read the directions in their entirety.
- Avoid placing the seat in a front seat. While this seems obvious, you may be tempted to install your next child restraint in the passenger seat so you can watch your child as you drive or easily access him/her. This, however, is not advised. The safest place for any restraint is in the back seats.
- Lock the seat belt. Some restraints require you to secure them using the seat belts. Even if this is not required, it may be advisable to secure the restraints with a seat belt.
- Test the stability of the seat. To guarantee the restraints will not move after installation, you should test them and practice buckling your children. You may also visit a child safety seat inspection station near you to determine if the seat is adjusted correctly for your child.