All You Need To Know About Children Seatbelt Laws
According to research on traffic accidents from 2017, proper restraint saved the lives of 325 children who were four years old and younger. Knowing when and where your children need to wear a seatbelt ensures their safety and helps you avoid paying hefty fines.
The problem is that regulations can vary. Children seatbelt laws and restraints depend on the state, kids’ ages, and their weight and height. If you want to respect the rules and keep your children safe, you are in the right place. Our simple guide will provide you with all the information you need about this topic.
All U.S. states have seatbelt requirements designed to keep children of different ages safe. The regulations can demand the following measures for protection:
- Rear-facing seats—Children up to four years old
- Forward-facing (harnessed) seats—Children up to six years old
- Booster seats—Children up to nine years old
- Regular seatbelts—Children aged 9–12 when they reach the height of four feet and nine inches
What you need to go for depends on your kid’s age, weight, and height. The measures don’t refer to age solely—children can outgrow booster seats, for example. You need to consider all three factors when deciding how to protect your child in a car.
It is strongly recommended that children under 13 ride only in the back seat. Until the shoulder seatbelt and vehicle lap fit properly, the child should use the belt-positioning booster seat.
The law itself isn’t the only guideline you need to follow. You should also look into the best practices recommended by safety experts.
For example, in many states, there are no seatbelt regulations regarding children riding in taxis. Despite this, you should use the appropriate restraint or seatbelt practice to protect your kids.
With that in mind, you can revise some of these best practices recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
- Ride the infants and toddlers in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible
- Follow the seat manufacturer’s instructions on the allowed weight or height
- Use the lap and shoulder belts for maximum protection when the children are old and large enough for regular seatbelts
The measures regarding child seats and seatbelts for kids are regulated by each state individually. You need to look into the laws in your place of residence to check what instructions you need to follow.
For example, in Idaho, adult safety belts are allowed for children of seven years old and older, while in Nevada, they need to be at least six years old and have over 60 lbs to use the seatbelts.
You can learn about child safety regulations in your state in more detail by reading our guides:
|New York||California||West Virginia|
If your child needs to wear a seatbelt by law and you disrespect that rule, you can get a ticket. The fines can be as big as $500, and in certain states, you might also get penalty points for noncompliance.
In case this is your first offense, the maximum base fine can differ—and you can check the examples in the table below:
|State||Maximum Base Fine for the First Offense (Additional Fees Can Apply)|
|Alabama||$25 for both a seatbelt and child seat|
|Arkansas||$45 for a seatbelt
$100 for a child seat
|Colorado||$71 for a seatbelt
$81 for a child seat
|Idaho||$10 for a seatbelt
$79 for a child seat
|Nevada||$25 for a seatbelt
$500 for a child seat
|Rhode Island||$40 for a seatbelt
$85 for a child seat
|Tennessee||$30 for a seatbelt
$50 for a child seat
|Washington||$124 for both a seatbelt and child seat|
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If you want to learn more about what can happen if you don’t wear a seatbelt in your state or don’t pay the ticket, head to our seatbelt law guides:
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