Child Car Sear Regulations

January 27, 2012

Each state in the US has its own child car seat regulations. Most states require a child to use a car seat until they are 4 years old, but most experts in child safety agree that a child should use a safety car seat until they are 80 pounds. Even if you are only passing through the state, if you are not following their child car seat laws then you can receive a ticket.

Child Car Seat Regulations in Florida
If you are driving in Florida then any child under the age of three must have his or her own car seat integrated into the car. If your child is 4 or 5 years old, then you can use an integrated car seat, separate car seat or seat belt. If you do not have the appropriate restraints for a child under 5, you will have three points added to your license and will receive a moving violation. You also may be required to attend a child restraint safety program.

Child Car Seat Regulations in California
The laws in California tend to be much more cautious than most states. A child is required to use a booster or baby seat until they reach 60 pounds or six years of age, whichever comes first. The child car seat or booster seat must be federally approved and meet all federal safety requirements.

Child Car Seat Regulations in New York
If you are in New York, your child must use a federally approved child car seat. As of 2009, until the age of 8 a child must use a booster seat or car seat. The state does not require it but it does recommend that a booster seat is used until your child is 100 pounds or 4'9". This is when an adult seat belt will function properly.

Child Car Seat Regulations in Texas
If you are driving in Texas, law requires that a child shorter than 4'9" and younger than 8 years old must use a car seat. Another law states that when the car engine is on, the child seat must be secured in the car according the manufacturer's instructions.

Child Car Seat Regulations in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts your booster seat or car seat must be federally approved and has to be secured following the proper instructions from the manufacturers. You must use this seat until the child is 57 inches tall and 8 years old. If your child is older than 8 or taller than 57 inches, a seat belt must be worn at all times, even as an adult.

Child Car Booster Seat Safety Information

Your child may be too big for a car seat but still require a booster seat. You will find that all states have their own child car booster seat regulations and child car booster seat laws. To determine which is the best child car booster seat for your needs, do some research and look into child car booster seat reviews by parents, the government and manufacturers.

Why You Need the Booster Seat
Most parents transition their child directly from the car seat to wearing a seat belt. What they do not realize is that their child is still too small for the seat belt to work properly if they are in an accident. The main cause of death in car accidents for children between the ages of 4 and 8 is mainly due to the fact that the children were not properly strapped in. Seat belts are designed for adults and not children. You need a booster seat until your child reaches 80 pounds or 4'9" in height. This is when the seat belt will fit properly over your child's hips and shoulders.

State Laws
Many states have changed or are in the process of changing their laws so that your child must ride in a car seat until he or she is that specified height and weight, or until they turn 8. Several states that have already altered their safety laws include Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wyoming, Tennessee and North Carolina. Many states only require a seat until the child is 4 but just because the law says that this is okay does not mean that it is safe.

Low Back Booster Seat
You can find many different kinds of booster seats. If you have a picky child that does not want to ride in the booster seat, look into getting a low back booster seat, as this does not really resemble a car seat. These low backed versions are very easy to move between cars and are very inexpensive.

A Few Safety Facts
Booster seats are recommended for children from the ages of 4 to 8, or that weigh 40 to 80 pounds. Once your child is heavier than 80 pounds, older than 8 or taller than 4'9" they can use a regular seat belt. If your child is younger than 4 or weighs less than 40 pounds they should still be using a car seat.

If you move your child form a car seat to using a seat belt too early then you increase their risk of injury. A child using a seat belt too early is 4 times more likely to have a serious head injury then those in a booster seat. The majority of children are either placed in the wrong type of car restraint or do not use a booster seat. If you are at any time uncertain about your child's safety in the car then stop into a car seat inspection station and they will be able to provide you with the information you need.

Child Seat Belt Safety: An Overview

One of the most important issues for drivers with children today is child seat belt safety. Regardless of how old your child is, you'll need to know exactly how to situate him or her in your vehicle so that he is as safe as possible at all times while you're driving. Before you go out and pick any child car seat to use for your infant or toddler, thoroughly research the different options.

Rear Facing Car Seat
The first child seat that you should use for your young infant is the rear facing car seat. These seats are designed to be put in a rear seat of the vehicle; they are not safe for front seat or passenger seat driving, so it's best to avoid putting your child there at any time while he is an infant or toddler.

Purchase a comfortable seat that is sturdy and secure, and be sure that it will work with the safety belts in your vehicle. The seat should attach in multiple places for added safety. You'll also want to be sure that you can see your child from where you'll be driving, so test out the seat before you buy it to make sure you have visual contact over your child at all times.

Front Facing Car Seat
After your child has developed and grown a bit more, you can then the seat so that it's front facing. You may be able to use the same seat to do this, as there are some that are convertible. This also must be placed on the back seat of your vehicle, and you should still make sure you have visual contact with your child. These front facing car seats are best used for toddlers who are over the age of 18 months or 2 years old.

NHTSA Booster Seat
When selecting a booster seat for your child who has outgrown his front facing car seat, it's best to get one that is approved by the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration, or NHTSA. These seats act as smaller versions of regular car seats, and they are the last step that you need for your child before he grows large enough to sit in a regular seat of the car. Again, booster seats should always be placed in the back seat. These seats are appropriate for children who are up to 8 years old.

Finally, once your child is large enough to comfortably sit in a regular seat of the car, you can remove the booster seat. At this point, he can sit in any seat, including the front. Be sure that you always encourage good behavior by monitoring his or her seatbelt use from an early age.

Related Questions and Answers

What is the Best Rated Infant Car Seat?

According to most experts and consumer reviews, the Graco SnugRide is the best rated infant car seat. This car seat is easy to use and very lightweight. While it doesn't have many of the frills and extra features of more expensive models, most parents interviewed say this was the infant car seat of choice because of how easy it is to get their child in and out. Also, how lightweight it is when carrying it by the handle. This car seat has a detachable base that stays secured in the car when you remove the seat.

How are Toddler Car Seat Ratings Calculated?

There are a number of factors that are considered in toddler car seat ratings. The security of the child in the seat is the most important factor when rating. Next, comes how easy it is to secure the seat or base in the car. Then, will come factors such as weight of the removable portion of the seat and how comfortable it is to carry it. If the seat has clips to secure it to shopping carts, it will rate higher. Some experts look for a cover to help keep the sun off the baby. Price will usually be the last factor. 

Where Can I Get Discount Booster Seats for Cheap?

The best place to buy discount booster seats is online. At online sites such as eBay and Amazon you can come across excellent prices on both new and used booster seats. You can also do comparison shopping of different brands and models online, which means no costly driving around town looking at different stores. If you don't like doing your shopping online, you can also find some wonderful deals at yard sales. However, you'll probably have to hit a few dozen before you find the right booster seat at the right price. Another good way to find a great price is to ask friends and family whose kids have graduated out of booster seats.

What are the Highest Booster Seat Safety Ratings?

Booster seat safety ratings will depend on the body performing the rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety calls booster seats with their highest rating 'Best Bets'. The National Highways Transportation Safety Administration uses a star rating system, with five stars being the best. Areas that are considered when giving a rating are crash worthiness, ease of use, and an evaluation of the instructions for use that come with the seat. Most other reviewers on the web rely on ratings from one of these two sites (NHTSA and Product Liability Law Blog) and incorporate their results into reviews.

How Much Does the Average Baby Car Seat Cost?

A baby car seat can cost quite a bit, or not much at all. How much you will pay will depend on what kind of seat you're buying, who makes it, and what sort of features it comes with. Some car seats have attachments for toys and to hold things like extra diapers and bottles, while others are basic models that just keep a baby safe and comfortable while you're driving. Graco is the maker of the most popular car seats on the market, and prices for their seats range from around $80 to just over $150 apiece.

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