Delaware Car Seat Laws
The Delaware car seat laws apply to all drivers and children passengers 15 years old or younger. Booster seat laws, as they are also called, dictate that children must meet certain age and weight requirements before they may sit in a vehicle seat unrestrained.
While car seat guidelines in DE require children passengers to be secured in the appropriate child restraint device for their size, they do not thoroughly explain the differences between the restraints or how to use them safely.
In addition to the booster seat age, weight and height listed by law, you should know the recommended ages, weights and heights in which children should transition from one child restraint to another. Because there are numerous types of child restraints that may make choosing the correct one difficult, you are encouraged to read the following sections to learn more about DE child restraint laws and recommendations.
What are the car seat laws in Delaware?
According to DE car seat rules, children must be secured in a child restraint device while riding in vehicles until they are eight years old. However, children younger than eight years old who exceed the booster seat weight of 64 pounds may sit with a seat belt only.
For certain age-groups, specific child restraint devices and positions are required, and all devices used must be federally approved for the children’s size. The following rules apply to children passengers in DE:
- Infants younger than one year must ride rear-facing in vehicles.
- Babies between the ages of one and three should remain rear-facing in an infant or convertible car seat as long as possible or until they exceed the manufacturer’s height or weight restrictions.
- Toddlers between the ages of four and seven must be forward-facing in vehicles until maximum height and weight limits for the seat are reached; then, they should transition to a booster seat.
- Children between the ages of eight and twelve must be in a booster seat until they can wear a seat belt properly without a booster.
Additional car seat safety rules apply to children younger than 12 years old or shorter than 65 inches tall. These children must remain in the back seat of vehicles with their seatbelts fastened to prevent airbag injuries or deaths. Though, children between the ages of eight and 12 may sit in the passenger seat of a vehicle if the airbags are deactivated.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in Delaware
DE penalties for breaking any car seat law include fines and court fees. The maximum fine for a first offense is $25, but subsequent car seat offenses may warrant extra penalties that are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Types of Car Seats
The best car seats for children are the ones that fit and protect them well, but finding the right child restraint can take time and an understanding of the different types available. You should ensure you buy car seats that adhere to DE laws and support your children’s needs. This list that explains the types of seats you can get that meet state criteria is provided below:
- Infant car seat. These are small rear facing car seat options that are often easy to transport in and out of the vehicle. The seats are designed for infants younger than two years old.
- Front facing car seat. These seats are great for toddlers and can be convertible to rear-facing or booster seats.
- Booster seat. Unlike an infant or toddler car seat, boosters simply raise children up so that the seat belt in a vehicle fits them properly.
Selecting the safest car seat can take trial and error, but you are advised to look at customer reviews and performance ratings of child restraints online before committing to buying them. This will save you money and time that would have been spent visiting multiple stores.
Some top-rated child restraints include the Baby Trend Inertia for infants, the Britax Advocate ClickTight for toddlers and the Evenflo Chase Select booster for children.
Car Seat Installation Information
The car seat installation process can be involved and entails assembling and adjusting child restraint devices in your vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car seats and boosters can prevent deaths resulting from car accidents, but car crashes are still a leading cause of death for children younger than 13 years old.
If car seats are installed or used incorrectly, then children are at a greater risk of suffering injuries or death. The car seat installation process may seem challenging, but there are many tools you can use when assembling and installing the child restraints that can make the process run more smoothly. A list of helpful installation tips is as follows:
- Utilize a child passenger safety technician. They can help you secure your child restraints and show you how to adjust and reinstall them better than online videos–all for free. You can contact the DE Office of Highway Safety to make an appointment today.
- Read the instructions manual for the child restraint device and your vehicle. You should completely review the instructions before beginning to ensure you do not misuse parts or forget steps and remember to check your vehicle’s manual for specific child restraint installation information if applicable.
- Adjust the child restraint device with the child in it. After positioning the restraint, you should try to tighten or loosen the straps on the harness or safety belt so that the shoulder straps fall at armpit-level and the lap straps sit slightly below the waist.