Car Seat and Booster Seat Laws
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car accidents are the leading cause of death in children ages 2 to 14, in large part due to the nonuse or improper use of child safety seats and seat belts. In fact, a NHTSA review conducted in 2009 found that half of all children younger than seven killed in motor vehicle crashes were not in child safety seats.
Car Seat and Booster Seat Law Inadequacies
In general, it has been found that booster and car seat laws do not adequately protect children in the event of a car accident. Although all 50 states have laws regarding the child safety restraints in automobiles, the National SAFE Kids Campaign says that almost half of the states fail when it comes to their child safety seat laws.
Therefore, it is recommended that parents and caregivers adhere to the most stringent of the state laws or follow the advice of reputable child health and safety organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), NHTSA, or the National SAFE Kids Campaign.
Car Seat and Booster Seat Guidelines From the AAP:
|Age||Type of Seat||Guideline|
|Infants||Infant-only and rear-facing convertible||Infants should always be secured in rear-facing seats until they are 2 years of age, or until they have reached the height/weight requirements – typically 35 pounds.|
|Toddlers & Preschoolers||Convertible, combination, and forward-facing (if they are of the appropriate height and/or weight)||Children who are at least 2 years of age and weigh at least 35 pounds can ride in forward-facing seats. It is best, however, to ride rear-facing until they reach 35 pounds, or the average weight of a 3- or 4-year-old.|
|School-aged children||Booster||Children should use booster seats after they have outgrown forward-facing car seats and until seat belts fit properly. This normally applies to children until they are 12 years of age or 4′ 9″ tall.|
|Older children||Seat belts||Children who have outgrown booster seats should wear a lap and shoulder belt; they should ride in the back seat until 13 years of age.|
Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.
Please note: State law information collected from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Safe Kids USA in 2009. All of our lawyers are licensed to practice in the state of Pennsylvania. We also have lawyers licensed to practice in Ohio, and West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia.