Car Seat Laws
Car seat laws are set into place in order to help children from being injured or killed in the event of an accident. Each year, the leading cause of death in children is motor vehicle accidents, making it imperative that you learn more about these laws, the different types of car seats available and how to properly install one.
Booster seat laws vary by state, which means you should learn more about your state and local laws along with the types of car seats, safe installation and proper use. A booster seat age is recommended for various types of seats in order to maximize your child’s protection and prevent injury in the event of an accident. You can find more information regarding laws, penalties and violations, the types of seat and installation tips in the sections that have been provided below.
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What are the Car Seat Laws?
Car seat safety is an important part of protecting your child from harm and the injury that can result in the event of an accident. In fact, using the proper seat for your child can reduce the risk of injury in a car accident by 71 to 82 percent in comparison to seat belt use alone.
Car seat ages, weight and height requirements vary by state. In some states, children will be required to be properly restrained in a seat all the way up to the age of 16 while other states will only require a seatbelt after a certain age. Other states use car seat weight and height requirements as the primary measurements in these laws with taller children permitted to use a seat belt rather than be secured in a seat. Furthermore, booster seat weight requirements may determine the type of seat that must be used for a child, depending on the state that you reside within. Therefore, it is important that you learn more about your state’s laws regarding these matters right away.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations
Child car seat law should be taken seriously, no matter what state you are in or the age of your child. If the state you live in requires that children be protected in a car seat until they are five years of age, it is important that you follow these laws.
Failing to meet car seat regulations can lead to serious consequences. Each state determines the amount of fines and other consequences that parents and drivers can receive for failing to abide by these laws with some states considering violations as a primary offense. That means that you could be met with hefty fines, criminal charges and demerit points against your driving record.
Types of Car Seats
The best car seats include rear-facing seats, forward-facing seats and booster seats. However, it is important to learn about each type of seat, including the age, weight and height recommendation for each one. It is also worth knowing that the types and brands of seats that you may use will also depend on the type of vehicle you own as not all car seats will fit in all vehicle types.
Generally, booster car seat age requirements will rely heavily on your child’s height as the booster is used to position the car seat in a way that the seat belt will fit properly. The types of boosters available include:
- Booster seat with a high back. This seat not only boosts your child’s height, but also provides neck and head support. This type of booster is recommended if your vehicle does not have a head rest or a height seat back.
- Backless booster seat. While the backless booster does boost a child’s height, it does not provide head or neck support. It is ideal for vehicles that have head rests.
- Combination seat. This booster can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat, making it ideal for children as they grow.
A rear-facing car seat is best used for young children and infants. The harness that it provides children can cradle and move with a child in the event of a crash, reducing the likelihood of injury and reducing stress to a child’s neck and spinal cord. This type of seat has three prominent types:
- Infant car seat (rear-facing only). This seat is designed for newborns and babies up to eight or nine months old.
- Convertible seat. Designed for young children, this seat can be adjusted from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat. The seat design includes a harness and tether. Unlike many forms of car seats, this type of seat permits children of various heights and weights, so it can be generally used for a longer period of time in a rear-facing position.
- All-in-one-seat. This seat is very similar to a convertible seat as it can be changed from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat and to a booster seat. Like the convertible, this seat supports various child sizes and includes a harness and tether, but it can generally be used for a longer period of time in the rear-facing position.
A forward facing car seat includes a harness and tether and helps limit a child’s forward facing movement in the event of a crash. You can find three types of forward facing seats, including:
- Convertible seat. This seat can be adjusted from a rear-facing seat to a forward facing-seat as your child grows.
- Combination seat. This seat can be adjusted from a forward-facing seat to a booster seat.
- All-in-one seat. This seat can be adjusted from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat and to a booster seat as needed.
Some of the safest car seats brands include:
- Diono Rainier.
- Nuna RAVA.
Car Seat Installation Information
Child car seat safety is not only important to remain in compliance with your state’s laws, but to keep your child safe in the event of an accident. As mentioned previously, it is important to learn more about your vehicle in order to determine what types of car seats can fit in your vehicle. It is also important that you review your local and state laws before selection a car seat for your child as some states will dictate the type of car seat you must have, depending on your child’s age.
It is also recommended that, once your car seat installation has been successful, you have your car seat inspected at a station in your area before using it. This can help you to ensure that your car seat was installed correctly, is the correct type that is needed for your child and that state and local laws have been met. You should also register your car seat with its manufacturer in order to receive any alerts about recalls or parts failings, if they occur.