Child Safety Seats & Seat Belt Requirements

When transporting a child who is younger than eight years old, unless the child is taller than four feet, nine inches, the child must be properly secured in a child passenger safety seat system that meets the federal standards for crash-tested restraint systems as by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Don’t use a cheap, unapproved booster seat. By doing so, you are endangering your child in addition to violating the law and opening yourself up to a fine.

The law also requires that safety seats be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, including height and weight guidelines.

A child in a poorly-fitting seat belt usually slumps down, allowing the seat belt to ride up into their abdomen or neck, which can cause severe injuries to the child’s neck and internal organs during a car crash.

To know when a child can wear a seat belt properly without a booster seat, use this simple test:

Have your child sit on the vehicle seat, sitting all the way back, with their back straight against the back of the seat, and buckle the lap/shoulder belt over them.

1. Do their legs bend naturally at the knees over the edge of the seat?
2. Does the lap portion of the belt fit over the top of their thighs?
3. Does the shoulder portion of the belt fit across the center of their chest?

If the answer to any of these three questions is no, the child may be better protected in a booster seat.

Although there is no law that prevents youngsters from sitting in the front seat of a vehicle, the safest place for a child in a car is in a rear seat, properly buckled into a child safety seat or a booster seat.

Air bags don’t replace child safety seats and may increase the risk of serious injury to children. Children younger than 13 should never ride in the front seats of vehicles with active passenger air bags.

For more information on proper child seat installation and use, please see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.
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