Child restraint law have been changing drastically over the years. You may look back on you childhood and remember bouncing around the back seat at a young age. Now you see five and six year old kids car seats and might think it is a little silly. You may have survived your childhood, but many didn't. Here are the basic car seat laws, and what happens if you don't abide by them with your own children.
Types of car seats
While there are some special seats for children with special needs. There are four basic types of car seats. These include:
Infant seats are car seats that only rear face. They have a base that you can install in the car so you can just snap the car seat in and our. Parents find this helpful so they can take the sleeping baby in and out without having to wake it up. These car seats are generally good for up to 20 pounds.
Many people will opt to skip the infant seat and just get a convertible car seat. This is because you will need to buy one anyway since babies outgrow the infant seats before they are big enough to forward-face in the car. Convertible seats have different stats depending on the seat. However, most rear-face from 5 to 40 pounds, and forward-face from 20 to 65 pounds.
Forward-facing seats are seats that cannot be faced backward. They are forward-facing only for older children. They're generally purchased if a convertible seat becomes damaged and the child is already forward-facing.
Booster seats are for children who are too big for a forward-facing, five-point harness. There are two types of boosters. These are high-back and backless. The high-back boosters are best for smaller children who are first transitioned out of forward-facing seats. However, if you have an SUV or a van with a headrest, you can opt for the backless seat.
Car seat guidelines and laws
There is a lot of confusion regarding when you can safely forward-face your child in a vehicle. The law varies from state-to-state. The law for states who haven't changed their standards in several years is usually age 1 and 20 pounds. The baby has to meet both requirements to legally face forward in the car. However, since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has changed their guidelines, some states have gotten on board. These guidelines state that toddlers should continue rear-facing at least until they are two years old. However, it is safest to keep them turned around until they meet the maximum height and weight for the seat.
Children should remain in a five-point harness until they are give years old or weigh 50 pounds. Once they are five or 50 pounds, they can sit in a booster seat until they are 4'9".
While considering your state laws for car seat advice, keep the recommendations in mind. Just because you can legally switch your child to a new seat, doesn't mean that it is the safest thing to do.
Failure to abide by the laws
Failure to abide by your state's car seat seat laws can cost your child his or her life. A child being too small for the vehicle's seat belt can cause your child to fly right through it and out your windshield. Being tired of snapping your child into a car seat or any other reason is not worth the risk. If you are caught by the police, you can be fined anywhere between $50 to $500 per child depending on the state. Police can also opt to get child protective service involved depending on the severity of the offense.
Be sure you understand your state laws and the AAP's recommendations when it comes to your child's safety.The last thing anyone wants is a child to be the center of a personal injury attorney's litigation.