Car seat laws in the United States are continuously changing to ensure the safety of children. Every state has specific regulations regarding car seats, and it is crucial for parents to be up-to-date with the latest changes. In 2019, several states have modified their laws, aiming to provide better protection for young passengers. In this article, we will discuss the amendments made to the car seat laws and what you need to know to comply with them.
1. Rear-Facing Car Seats
Until recently, car seat laws allowed children to ride in a front-facing position after they reach two years of age. However, new guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children should remain in a rear-facing position until they outgrow the car seat, which might happen by the age of four. In response, several states – California, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina – have passed laws enforcing higher rear-facing car seat requirements. Parents travelling through these states are advised to adhere to the stricter laws to avoid getting fined.
2. Booster Seats Regulations
Booster seats have been one of the most effective safety devices for children riding in cars. However, not all states require a booster seat for children. In 2019, Arizona, Arkansas, and Indiana updated their booster seat laws, making it mandatory for children under eight years of age to be secured in one. The previous requirement was age six or under, or insufficient accommodation of the seat belt. The other states also adjusted their laws to require the use of booster seats for older children, illustrating that seat safety requirements are expanding.
3. Restricted Use of Safety Belt Positioning Booster Seats
Safety belt positioning booster seats are designed to work with an adult seat belt system and are suitable for children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat. These booster seats correctly position the seat belt over the sternum and shoulder instead of the neck and abdomen. However, studies have indicated that these seats are not as safe as other types of car seats and should only be used for children over a certain weight. Therefore, states like Louisiana have decided to restrict the use of these booster seats to children over forty pounds in weight.
4. Age-Weight-Height Combination Requirements
To ensure that children are secure and comfortable when traveling in a car, some states have implemented stricter regulations, which consider weight, age, and height to provide more comprehensive guidelines for child restraints. Missouri and West Virginia have requirements that children under the age of 2 to be in rear-facing car seats, and those over two years old should use a forward-facing seat unrestrained. In Illinois, children under two years of age must also use a rear-facing car seat. However, the child may be placed in front if the passenger seat airbag is turned off. These laws emphasize that every state has specific standards for child restraint systems and should be carefully followed.
5. Penalties for Non-Compliance
Finally, it is worth noting that most states are imposing hefty fines on non-compliant parents who drive without properly securing their children. The amount of this fine varies but Oregon has the highest penalty of $1000. Additionally, all states reserve the right to revoke the license of parents who repeatedly violate the law. Therefore, it is essential to keep up with changes in the law, as they can have significant impacts on your wallet and driving privileges.
In conclusion, the amendments to the car seat laws in 2019 illustrate a concerted effort by states to protect children who are passengers in vehicles. The law’s goal is to ensure that children are kept as safe as possible while travelling in cars. By understanding and following these regulations, you can help ensure that your children are safe and secure while on the road. Remember, the most important thing is to check with local laws to ensure that you are adhering to the latest seat requirements in your state.