There is only so much we can do to prevent car accidents, but we can and should focus on increasing safety for our children in the event of an auto accident. Effective January 1, 2015, the laws on car seat requirements changed. Parents must now keep their children in car seats until they are at least 6 years old.
The law specifies that an operator of a motor vehicle must provide proper protection for children 5 years of age or younger. Children 5 years or younger can only ride with their parents if they are properly seated in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.
More specifically, children under 3 years old must use a restraint device that is a separate carrier or vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat. Children ages 4 through 5 may use a booster seat.
The following is a car seat guideline for children that you may refer to:
- Ages 0 – 3 Years Old: Rear-facing car seats until they reach the maximum height requirement.
- Ages 2 – 7 Years Old: Forward facing car seats or booster seats, depending on height.
- Ages 4 – 12 years Old: Booster seats until they reach the height of 4’-9”
While the law only enforces the use of a car seat until the age of 5, it is recommended that children use a booster seat until they are 8 to 12 years old, or at least 4 feet 9 inches.
Below are a few guidelines you can use to determine whether your child still needs a booster seat:
- Child is at least 4’ 9” tall.
- The child can sit all the way back in the seat and bend their knees over the edge of the seat.
- The shoulder belt lays across the chest, not the neck.
- The lap belt lays across the upper thigh, not the stomach.
Child-safety is the most important concern for any parent, and the fact remains that using a car seat properly can save your child’s life. For more information on car seat safety visit one of the following: