Child Passenger Safety Seat Law

September 2015 a new child restraint law will go in effect. The wording of the new law has become the subject of debate and confusion. I hope this will clarify some of the issues regarding the new law.

First, we as parents and caregivers want our children to be safe in vehicles. Too many deaths have occurred due to improper installation of a car seat or placing them in improperly fitted booster seats or even no child restraint at all.

Second, the absolute safest the child can be is rear facing. Honestly if we drivers could sit rear facing we would be much safer as well. Hurry up Google with automated vehicles!

Let’s break the law down.

Birth - 2 Years Old Under 30 Lbs

Your child MUST be in a rear facing seat with a 5 point harness. Usual argument: My child is tall, I don’t want their legs bent against the seat or I’m worried about development of their bones. This is a very common concern and has no evidence to support it.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (March 2011) - There are no known detrimental effects of riding rear-facing longer than a year, but the benefits of doing so have been observed for many years in Sweden and more recently in the United States.

2 - 4 Years of Age

If your child is less than 40lbs they shall be rear facing with a 5 point harness until the child outgrows the weight / height for the rear facing seat. Then they may be secured on a Forward Facing Child Restraint with a 5 point harness. All seat manufacturers have a weight / height limit for rear facing printed on the side of your car seat.

4 - 8 Years of Age

The child shall remain in the back seat in a Forward Facing seat equipped with a 5 point harness until they outgrow the seats top weight / height recommendations set by the car seat manufacturer.

Once the child reaches the top weight / height recommendations they can be secured in a booster with the vehicle seat belt.

8 Years of Age or 57 Inches

Must be secured by a seat belt. There are cases when seatbelts may not fit your child correctly regardless of being 8 years old or above 57”. In this case the best practice is to continue using a booster for proper positioning of the seatbelt.

When Can My Child Use Just a Seatbelt?

  • Tall enough to sit without slouching.
  • Able to keep his or her back against the vehicle seat.
  • Able to keep his or her knees ‘naturally’ bent over the edge of the seat.
  • Their feet are flat on the floor.
  • The lap belt must be snugly across their thighs not their stomach.
  • The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest not the neck or face.
Never have the shoulder belt under their arm or behind their back. This can result in severe injury in a crash.