Child Safety Information and Resources 2019 14-09-34


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Child Car Seat Rules Usa

The state law in Alaska was updated in 2009. If your child is under a year old or weighs less than 20 pounds, they are required to ride in a rear-facing car seat. Then until four years old, the child must be properly restrained in an appropriate child restraint. Children who are between ages four and eight must ride in a booster seat (unless they are still riding in a harnessed car seat), unless they are taller than 4'9" or weigh more than 65 pounds. Alaska law requires all passengers to use a seat belt if they aren't in a child restraint.

Children who are not optimally protected are at higher risk of injury, even if they are in compliance with state law. Consider using your state car seat law as a bare minimum, and then go beyond it for the best possible protection.

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Updated in 2007, Washington law requires that children less than eight years old be restrained in appropriate child restraint systems (car seats or booster seats) unless the child is 4'9" tall. Babies under one-year-old and weighing less than 20 pounds must ride in a rear-facing car seat. Children who are 8 or older, or who are 4'9" or taller, must use a seatbelt or appropriate child safety restraint. Children under 13 years of age must be transported in rear seats where it is practical to do so.

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To prevent heat stroke or other fatal outcomes, it's against Florida law to leave a child under 6 years old in an unattended vehicle for more than 15 minutes. Punishment for breaking this law is a second degree misdemeanor.

Maine law requires babies and children weighing under 40 pounds to be properly secured in a federally approved car seat. Children under age eight and under 80 pounds to ride in a car seat or booster seat. Children under age 18 must wear seat belts if they are not in a car seat or booster seat, and children under age 12 and weighing less than 100 pounds must ride in a rear seat if possible.

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South Dakota law requires all children under age 5 and weighing less than 40 pounds to use an appropriate federally approved car seat or booster in all seating positions. All children age 17 and under are required to wear a seat belt if they are not already in a car seat or booster. Though South Dakota is one of only a few U.S. states without a booster seat law, booster seats are strongly recommended until a child weighs at least 80 pounds and is 4'9" tall.

The laws of physics and crash dynamics don't change based on your state's car seat law. A child who is restrained according to best practices will be well-protected and in compliance with the laws in any state.

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There are many state car seat laws that have lists of requirements joined by "and," which generally means the car seat or your child should meet every item on the list to comply with the law. If the law says your child must be one-year-old and 20 pounds to use a forward-facing car seat, both requirements must be met. There are other requirements where "or" is used instead. In that case, only one of the requirements must be met to comply with the law. Booster seat laws often follow this pattern, where a child can legally move out of a booster seat when they reach 8 years old, or 80 pounds, or 4'9", whichever comes first. When state residents claim the updated booster seat laws would require a teenager or petite adult to ride in a booster seat, it's often because they've misread the "or" for "and."


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