Georgia Car Seat Laws
Georgia car seat laws aim to reduce the number of deaths in children between the ages of one and 12 caused by car accidents. With the booster seat laws in effect, children who meet certain age, weight and height criteria must be secured in a child restraint device approved for their size.
Though the booster seat age requirement may vary depending on the child, the law states that a suitable child restraint must be used and placed in the appropriate position within the vehicle.
Drivers and parents must be familiar with all state laws pertaining to car seat safety and address their children passengers’ well-being by acquiring the right child restraint.
To avoid incurring legal penalties and endangering child passengers, drivers and parents should review GA child restraint laws. The following sections can help drivers and parents determine which child restraint is required for their child passengers and when it is required.
What are the car seat laws in Georgia?
The car seat regulations in GA state that all children younger than eight years old and shorter than 57 inches in height cannot sit in the front of a vehicle due to the threat an airbag poses to their health.
However, no booster seat weight or age requirements are specified in the law. Instead, any child younger than eight years old may either use a car seat or a booster when appropriate. Still, all children younger than eight years old must be secured in a child restraint device of some kind, regardless of their height and weight, according to state legislation.
If the restraint is not a car or booster seat, then the children must wear seat belts with shoulder and lap straps. These laws apply to all drivers operating motor vehicles for any period with a child passenger.
While not illegal in GA, performing any of the following actions are discouraged while transporting a child passenger:
- Holding a child in your lap
- Using car seats that have been in an accident
- Driving with a child passenger between the ages of eight and thirteen in the front seat
Note: Limited exceptions may be made to some car seat laws if vehicles do not have a back seat or if children have legitimate, medical reasons for abstaining from using child restraints.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in Georgia
According to GA law, violators of car seat guidelines may face fines and points against their driver’s licenses. Fines for breaking any car or booster seat law may cost up to $50, and one point is given to drivers for each child passenger who is improperly restrained in the vehicle. Second offenders may incur double the fines and points per unrestrained child passenger.
While the seat belt laws in GA are primary, meaning that law enforcement officers may engage drivers suspected of committing a seat belt offense, car seat laws are not and must be a secondary citation. However, police officers may issue citations to drivers with child passengers eight years old and older who are not buckled. Nevertheless, drivers are always required to follow the state laws related to child restraints.
Types of Car Seats
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the recommended car seat ages and weights for children are as follows:
- Rear facing car seat. Children younger than one year old should always use this type of seat. Whether this seat is a convertible car seat or an infant car seat that cannot be used rear-facing, babies and some young children up until they are three years old are safest in this seat.
- Forward facing car seat. Children can sit in a front-facing seat after they are one year old, but many parents may decide to wait until they are older to transition them into this seat. A child can remain secure in this seat until they are seven years old or outgrow the seat.
- Booster seat. Children between the ages of four and 12 may benefit from using a booster seat. Parents can determine when their children require a booster seat by paying attention to height and weight limits for their current child restraint. Once they exceed the limits or are simply more comfortable with a booster seat, they can transition to a booster.
- Seat belt. While seat belts are not car seats, they do provide a similar level of protection and should be worn by all passengers who are able to fit into it. Children fit into a seat belt when the shoulder belt rests across their shoulders and chest and the lap belt sits nicely on the upper thighs.
The best car seats may not be the same for every child, but drivers and parents can research which brand of child restraint they may want and read customer reviews to gauge how much they can expect to like the product.
Some of the safest car seats available, as revealed by consumer reports and crash-test data, are the Baby Trend EZ Flex-Loc 32 and the Britax Parkway SGL.
Car Seat Installation Information
Parents and drivers need to do more than learn the car seat laws in GA and apply their knowledge of child restraints to the installation process.
To ensure the safety of child passengers, the car seat installation process needs to be complete and effective. Approximately four out of every ten children in the U.S. younger than six years old die or are seriously injured in car accidents because they are unrestrained or restrained incorrectly.
These installation tips can help parents and drivers properly secure their child passengers:
- Read the instructions manual. This applies to both the instructions for the child restraint and for the vehicle. Some cars have built-in anchors and tethers that attach to child restraints that can make the installation easier.
- Place all car seats in the back seats. This is the safest place for all child passengers.
- Lock the seat belt. Unless other instructed by the manual, parents should lock and secure the seat belts in place.
- Change the angle of the seat back. The seat back should lean backwards slightly to prevent children’s heads from falling forward during a car ride.
- Tighten all straps and test the stability of the seat. After completing the installation, parents should ensure the restraint does not move excessively (i.e., more than one inch).