Car Seat Laws by State

Massachusetts Booster Seat FAQs

Why does my child need a booster seat?

 

Beginning July 10, 2008 a child passenger restraint is required by law for children 5-7 years of age or until they reach 4’9” in height in the state of Massachusetts. This means that for children who have grown out of their forward facing child safety seat, the next step is the booster seat.

A booster seat helps your child fit correctly in your vehicle’s safety belt. It positions the lap belt on the hips and the shoulder belt across the chest, providing the greatest amount of protection.

Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of children between the ages of 4-8. Booster seats can reduce those injury rates by 58% over seat belt use for that age group. 

What does the new booster seat law say?

 

What does the new booster seat law say?

Its says that “no child under the age of eight and measuring less than fifty-seven inches shall ride as a passenger in a motor vehicle on any way unless such child is properly fastened and secured, according to the  anufacturers’ instructions, by a child passenger restraint”.

The previous law only required children under 5 years of age and under 40 pounds to ride in a child safety seat.

The new law also states that children ages eight to twelve are required to wear a safety belt when traveling in a motor vehicle.

Read more at: Booster Seat FAQ

 

 

 

What does the new booster seat law say?

Its says that “no child under the age of eight and measuring less than fifty-seven inches shall ride as a passenger in a motor vehicle on any way unless such child is properly fastened and secured, according to the  anufacturers’ instructions, by a child passenger restraint”.

The previous law only required children under 5 years of age and under 40 pounds to ride in a child safety seat.

The new law also states that children ages eight to twelve are required to wear a safety belt when traveling in a motor vehicle.

Read more at: Booster Seat FAQ

 

 

 

 

According to: Massachusetts.gov Law

PART I. ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT

TITLE XIV. PUBLIC WAYS AND WORKS

 

CHAPTER 90. MOTOR VEHICLES AND AIRCRAFT

 

MOTOR VEHICLES

Chapter 90: Section 7AA. Child passenger restraints; fine; violation as evidence in civil action

[ First and second paragraphs effective until July 10, 2008. For text effective July 10, 2008, see below.]

  Section 7AA. No child under age five and no child weighing forty pounds or less shall ride as a passenger in a motor vehicle on any way unless such child is properly fastened and secured, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, by a child passenger restraint as defined in section one.

  No child who is five years of age or older, but not older than twelve years of age, shall ride as a passenger in a motor vehicle on any way unless such child is wearing a safety belt which is properly adjusted and fastened according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

[ First and second paragraphs as amended by 2008, 79, Sec. 2 effective July 10, 2008. For text effective until July 10, 2008, see above.]

  A passenger in a motor vehicle on any way who is under the age of 8 shall be fastened and secured by a child passenger restraint, unless such passenger measures more than 57 inches in height. The child passenger restraint shall be properly fastened and secured according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  Unless required to be properly fastened and secured by a child passenger restraint under the preceding paragraph, a passenger in a motor vehicle on any way that is under the age of 13 shall wear a safety belt which is properly adjusted and fastened according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  The provisions of this section shall not apply to any such child who is: (1) riding as a passenger in a school bus; (2) riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle made before July first, nineteen hundred and sixty-six, that is not equipped with safety belts; (3) physically unable to use either a conventional child passenger restraint or a child restraint specifically designed for children with special needs; provided, however, that such condition is duly certified in writing by a physician who shall state the nature of the disability as well as the reasons such restraints are inappropriate; provided, further, that no such certifying physician shall be subject to liability in a civil action for the issuance of or for the failure to issue such certificate. An operator of a motor vehicle who violates the provisions of this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars; provided, however, that said twenty-five dollar fine shall not apply to an operator of a motor vehicle licensed as a taxi cab not equipped with a child passenger restraint device.

  A violation of this section shall not be used as evidence of contributory negligence in any civil action.

  A person who receives a citation for a violation of any of the provisions of this section may contest such citation pursuant to section three of chapter ninety C. A violation of this section shall not be deemed to be a conviction of a moving violation of the motor vehicle laws for the purpose of determining surcharges on motor vehicle premiums pursuant to section one hundred and thirteen B of chapter one hundred and seventy-five.

Michigan law requires:

  • Children from birth until age 8 be properly restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat in the vehicle, unless 4’9″ tall.
  • Children who are eight years old but less than sixteen years old must use a safety belt no matter where they are riding in the vehicle
Michigan law requires:

Children younger than age 4 to ride in a car seat in the back seat if the vehicle has a back seat. If all back seats are occupied by children under 4, then a child under 4 may ride in a car seat in the front seat. A child in a rear-facing car seat may only ride in the younger than age 8 or shorter than 4 feet 9 inches to be properly buckled in a child safety seat or booster seat.

How do I know if my baby is properly buckled in a rear-facing car seat?
• A rear-facing car seat must be buckled into the vehicle seat tightly. The seat should not move more than one inch from side to side or front to back.

• The seat should recline so the child’s head lies back on the car seat without falling forward.

• Harness straps should be snug with no slack.

• The harness clip should be at armpit level. Always read the instructions that come with the car seat.

For more information: Michigan Child Passenger Safety

 

Child Passenger Restraint Law
MN Stat 169.685

  • Children under age 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches tall must be secured in a safety seat or booster seat that meets federal safety standards.
  • Children cannot ride in a seat belt alone until they are age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall — whichever comes first.
  • Safety seats must be installed and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Child must be secured in the safety seat.
  • Seat must be secured to the vehicle — unless a booster seat.
  • Infants (under 20 pounds and one year of age) must be in a rear-facing safety seat.
  • Law applies to all motor vehicles originally equipped with factory-installed seat belts.
  • Law applies to all seating positions.
  • Driver is responsible.
  • Petty misdemeanor fine for violation is $50 (may be waived if violator shows proof of obtaining a safety seat within 14 days).
  • Applies to both residents and non-residents of Minnesota.
  • Suspected non-use is a valid basis to stop a motor vehicle.

Exceptions:

  • Children riding in emergency medical vehicles, when medical needs make use of a restraint unreasonable
  • Children riding in a motor vehicle for hire, including a taxi, airport limousine or bus, but excluding a rented, leased or borrowed motor vehicle
  • Children riding with a peace officer on official duty, when a restraint is not available (a seat belt must be substituted)
  • Children certified by a licensed physician as having a medical, physical or mental disability that makes restraint use inadvisable
  • Passengers in school buses — without factory installed seat belts

This law is a minimum safety standard and does not reflect best practices for properly securing children within vehicles.

  • For children under 80 pounds to properly be secured in a vehicle, they should sit in an appropriate child safety seat (or booster seat). In addition, children under the age of 13 should sit in the rear of a vehicle.
  • Children are not ready for a seat belt alone until they can sit with their back against the vehicle seat, knees bent completely over the seat and feet touching the floor.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride in a booster seat until they are between 8–12 years old and are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. Read more about the importance of booster seats and upgraded child passenger restraint laws.
  • Fines collected from violations of this law go into a special account dedicated to purchasing child safety seats for lower income families. Violations of this law are recorded onto a violator’s driving record.
  • This is only a guide provided by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and should not be construed as legal advice.

 

Child Passenger Safety (CPS)

This site is designed to help parents and caregivers:

Choose the right seat for your child
Make sure our child’s seat is installed properly.
Understand what laws apply to child passenger safety seats, and more.
New in Child Passenger Safety

Most common child passenger safety mistakes
• Turning a child from a rear-facing restraint to a forward-facing restraint too soon.
• Restraint is not secured tight enough — it should not shift more than one inch side-to-side or out from the seat.
• Harness on the child is not tight enough — if you can pinch harness material, it’s too loose.
• Retainer clip is up too high or too low — should be at the child’s armpit level.
• The child is in the wrong restraint — don’t rush your child into a seat belt.
• Don’t Skip a Step

New Booster Seat Law in Effect
Minnesota’s new child passenger safety law requires a child who is both under age 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches to be fastened in a child safety seat or booster. Under this law, a child cannot use a seat belt alone until they are age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall — whichever comes first. It is recommended to keep a child in a booster based on their height, rather than their age.

Boosters are seat lifts that help raise a child up so a seat belt fits properly.

Kids that are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches aren’t ready to use a seat belt alone. Poor belt fit can contribute to death or serious injury — including ejection, internal decapitation and serious abdominal damage. A sign a belt does not fit properly is if it rubs against a child’s neck, or the child tucks the belt behind their back.

3 years and younger must be in a child restraint; 4 through 6 years and either less than 57 inches or less than 65 pounds must be in a booster seat 6 years and younger who either weigh 65 pounds or more or who are 57 inches or taller  

According to the Mississippi Department of Health

Use Your Child Safety Seat Correctly

Child seats: Take care!

  • Mississippi’s childhood motor vehicle fatality rate is 1.6 times greater than the national average.
  • In 2005 alone, 112 children under 13 were killed as passengers in Mississippi.
  • The 14-20 age range had the highest rate of unbelted fatalities of all other age ranges.
  • In 2006, ninety-five percent of Mississippi’s children were restrained improperly.

The Mississippi State Department of Health conducts safety seat checks and educates parents in the proper installation of car safety seats. More information about the Mississippi car seat laws.

Remember:

  • Kids in the back: All children under age 13 must ride in a back seat.
  • Sit tight: Never let children ride on laps, in cargo areas or pickup truck beds.
  • Avoid used seats: Never use car seats purchased from yard sales, secondhand stores or flea markets.
  • Put your weight into it: Get a tight fit between the child restraint system and the vehicle seat. Put your weight into the child restraint system to compress the vehicle seat while tightening the seat belt as much as possible.
  • Special needs: Some children require special child restraints. Premature infants, children with respiratory difficulties, orthopedic challenges, and neurological and behavioral problems may require special child restraints.
  • Stay informed: Information on using vehicle seat belts with child restraints may be obtained from the vehicle seat belt”s and the owner’s manual. For proper installation, read both the vehicle owner’s manual and the child restraint instruction manual.

Lock it up:

  • Place children in age- and size-appropriate restraint systems. This reduces serious and fatal injuries by more than half. According to statistics in 2006, 95% of Mississippi’s children were improperly restrained.
  • Newer seat belt systems have a built-in locking mechanism.
  • Install car seats using a locked vehicle safety belt or a Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system.
  • Some vehicle seat belt systems require additional hardware, such as a locking clip, to lock the child restraint during normal driving conditions.
  • Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to determine whether a locking clip is needed to secure the child safety seat.

Always use the correct child restraint system. Never use pillows, books or towels to boost a child. Doing so can compromise your child’s safety.

 

For the safety of your children, please observe the Mississippi car seat laws.

Missouri Child Restraint Laws:
 
1. Less than 4 years old less than four years old, regardless of weight, use an appropriate child passenger restraint system.—Missouri law requires children

4. Greater Than 80 Pounds Or Taller Than 4’9’’ Children who are at least 80 pounds or children taller than 4’9’’ tall must be secured by a vehicle safety belt or booster seat appropriate for that child.
 

 

For more information: Missouri Highway Dept
 
A rear-facing infant seat should not be used in a front passenger
seat equipped with an air bag. The back of the rear-facingsafety seat is located very close to the dashboard, where the airbag is housed. The air bag could hit the back of the safety seatvery hard, and this could seriously injure the baby’s head andbrain.

— The worst possible place for a child to ride is in the arms ofan adult. An unrestrained adult can literally crush a child againstthe dashboard.

— A child safety seat holds onto your child in a crash and keepsthe child from hitting dangerous objects or from being thrownout of the vehicle.

— All 50 states and the District of Columbia have child passengerprotection laws.

— The safest place for a child under 12 years of age to be securedis in the rear seat.

—Missouri law requires children

2. Less than 40 pounds weighing less than 40 pounds, regardless of age, to be secured in a child passenger restraint system appropriate for the child.
3. Less than 8 years old/80 pounds or under 4’9’’ Children (ages 4-7) who weigh at least 40 pounds, but less than 80 pounds, and are less than 4’9’’ tall, must be secured in a child passenger restraint system or a booster seat appropriate for that child.

The Montana Seatbelt Use Act requires the use of seatbelts by the driver and each occupant of each vehicle. State law also requires child safety restraint systems for children under the age of 6 and weighing less than 60 pounds. A few drivers and passengers are excluded from the law (see Exemptions below), including people unable to use seatbelts due to a medical condition.

At this time, Montana does not have a “primary” seatbelt law. Under primary laws, law enforcement personnel may make traffic stops solely for failure to use a seatbelt.

The penalty for failure to use a seatbelt is $20. The penalty is not counted as a misdemeanor, it may not be counted as a moving violation—for purposes of suspending a driver license, for example—and it is not counted against a driver’s record.

The penalty for failure to use a child safety restraint system is a fine of not more than $100.

Why Buckle Up?

Seatbelts minimize the effects of vehicle crashes on the human body. In most crashes, there are two collisions. The first involves the vehicle striking an object, then buckling and bending until it comes to a stop. The second, the “human collision,” is more costly and damaging. When the body strikes a hard surface, it comes to a stop within a very short distance. Because the hard surface has little give, the human body must absorb most of the force of the impact. Properly adjusted and fastened seatbelts distribute the forces of the rapidly decelerating body over a larger area, while stretching to absorb some of the force. In addition, belts hold the body in place while the car crushes and slows down.

Whether a person is belted or not often becomes the difference between life and death. While researchers may differ by a few percentage points either way, figures from seatbelt studies reveal:

  • Seatbelts can reduce the number of serious injuries by 50 percent.
  • Seatbelts can reduce fatalities by 40 to 60 percent.

Highway Patrol Annual Reports provide a number of charts relating to seatbelt use in Montana. For a national perspective, visit Buckle Up America, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s campaign to increase the proper use of safety belts and child safety seats.

Exemptions

Montana law allows the following exemptions:

  • Federal Exemptions – Montana’s seatbelt law exempts occupants of motor vehicles not required to have seatbelts under federal law. The intent of this section is to exempt vehicles that are only occasionally moved on Montana roads and highways, such as farm tractors, road maintenance equipment and well-boring apparatus.
  • Vehicles Manufactured Before 1968 – Motor vehicles manufactured before January 1, 1968, were not required by federal motor vehicle standards to have seatbelts. Drivers and passengers in these vehicles are not required to have or install seatbelts.
  • Buses – Bus drivers of buses manufactured before January 1, 1972, are not required to use seatbelts. Nor are their passengers. (Buses under 10,000 lbs. gross weight and seating 10 or fewer passengers require seatbelt use.)
  • School Bus Passengers – School bus passengers are not required to wear seatbelts. School bus drivers must wear properly adjusted seatbelts.
  • Medical Exemptions – Drivers and passengers are not required to wear seatbelts when they have in their possession a written statement from a licensed physician stating that they are unable to wear a seatbelt for medical reasons. The certification of exemption for medical reasons must be issued on the physician’s letterhead stationery and include the patient’s name, date of birth and address, the date the exemption was issued, a clear statement of medical exemption from seatbelt use and the doctor’s signature. Generally, physicians are very selective in granting medical exemptions.
  • Frequent Stops On The Job – Drivers who make frequent stops with a motor vehicle in their official job duties may apply for an exemption from the Motor Vehicle Division. Requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Exemptions must be carried while on the job as proof for law enforcement. The application for a frequent-stop seatbelt exemption is available as a downloadable form

NEBRASKA CHILD RESTRAINT LAW

For more info: Nebraska DMV

Differences between what is Legal and what is Recommended.

 Parents and other caregivers frequently ask the question “what is the law regarding buckling up my child?” Most parents and caregivers assume that the law is the safest and is what is recommended by safety experts. This, however, is not always the case. The Nebraska child passenger safety and safety belt laws, like other states’ restraint laws, are the result of compromises between the “best practice” recommendations of safety experts and provisions that the legislators feel are practical, enforceable, and will be tolerated by the general public and their own constituents.

 Occupant restraint laws can be considered to be minimum standards. The two biggest differences between what is legal vs. what is recommended are:

 1.  The laws are based on age whereas “best practice” recommendations for the best crash protection are based mostly on weight and physical development, and that

 2.  None of these laws require that all occupants be buckled up at all times in all seating positions.

 Parents and caregivers can be assured that if they are following best practice guidelines and recommendations for restraining children, it WILL be legal as well.

 Restraint that is required or allowed under the Nebraska occupant restraint laws (60-6,267, 60-6,268):

 All children up to age six must ride correctly secured in a federally-approved child safety seat.

 Children ages six up to age eighteen must ride secured in a safety belt or child safety seat.

 Children up to age eighteen are prohibited from riding in cargo areas.

 Childcare providers must transport all children securely in an appropriate safety seat or safety belt.

 Drivers and front seat passengers are required to ride buckled up in a safety belt or child safety seat. Note, however, that everybody in the vehicle must be buckled up if the driver holds a provisional operators permit (POP) or a school permit.

 “Bst Practice” recommendations for providing maximum protection for an infant, child, or adult can be found on the Safe Kids Nebraska website.

Quick Tips for proper car seat safety in Nevada

Buckle Up! Nevada law requires seat belt use by all occupants in a vehicle. Children under age 6 who weigh less than 60 pounds must be in an approved child restraint system that properly installed

Nevada Child Restraint Law:

NRS 484B.157  Child less than 6 years of age and weighing 60 pounds or less to be secured in child restraint system while being transported in motor vehicle; requirements for system; penalties; programs of training; waiver or reduction of penalty under certain circumstances; application of section.

      1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 7, any person who is transporting a child who is less than 6 years of age and who weighs 60 pounds or less in a motor vehicle operated in this State which is equipped to carry passengers shall secure the child in a child restraint system which:

      (a) Has been approved by the United States Department of Transportation in accordance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. Part 571;

      (b) Is appropriate for the size and weight of the child; and

      (c) Is installed within and attached safely and securely to the motor vehicle:

             (1) In accordance with the instructions for installation and attachment provided by the manufacturer of the child restraint system; or

             (2) In another manner that is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

      2.  If a defendant pleads or is found guilty of violating the provisions of subsection 1, the court shall:

      (a) For a first offense, order the defendant to pay a fine of not less than $100 or more than $500 or order the defendant to perform not less than 10 hours or more than 50 hours of community service;

      (b) For a second offense, order the defendant to pay a fine of not less than $500 or more than $1000 or order the defendant to perform not less than 50 hours or more than 100 hours of community service; and

      (c) For a third or subsequent offense, suspend the driver’s license of the defendant for not less than 30 days or more than 180 days.

      3.  At the time of sentencing, the court shall provide the defendant with a list of persons and agencies approved by the Department of Public Safety to conduct programs of training and perform inspections of child restraint systems. The list must include, without limitation, an indication of the fee, if any, established by the person or agency pursuant to subsection 4. If, within 60 days after sentencing, a defendant provides the court with proof of satisfactory completion of a program of training provided for in this subsection, the court shall:

      (a) If the defendant was sentenced pursuant to paragraph (a) of subsection 2, waive the fine or community service previously imposed; or

      (b) If the defendant was sentenced pursuant to paragraph (b) of subsection 2, reduce by one-half the fine or community service previously imposed.

Ê A defendant is only eligible for a reduction of a fine or community service pursuant to paragraph (b) if the defendant has not had a fine or community service waived pursuant to paragraph (a).

      4.  A person or agency approved by the Department of Public Safety to conduct programs of training and perform inspections of child restraint systems may, in cooperation with the Department, establish a fee to be paid by defendants who are ordered to complete a program of training. The amount of the fee, if any:

      (a) Must be reasonable; and

      (b) May, if a defendant desires to acquire a child restraint system from such a person or agency, include the cost of a child restraint system provided by the person or agency to the defendant.

Child Restraint Law

New Hampshire law requires that any child under the age of eighteen riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle be secured by either a seat belt or a child safety seat and that any child under the age of four be secured by an approved child restraint (RSA 265:107-a). It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that all child-passengers are properly restrained. There are only four exceptions to this requirement. Children do not have to be restrained: (1) in taxis and buses, (2) in vehicles manufactured prior to 1968, (3) when they have physical conditions that prevent the use of seat belts or child safety seats, and (4) under certain special-education conditions.

If you fail to have a child passenger “buckle up,” you face a first offense fine of $50, and a second offense fine of $100.

For more information: New Hampshire Department of Justice

New Jersey’s child passenger safety law requires:

Children under 8 years of age who weigh less than 80 pounds to ride properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat in the rear seat of the vehicle. If there is no rear seat, the child may sit in the front seat, but s/he must be secured by a child safety seat or booster seat.

(Note: A rear-facing infant seat should never be placed in a front seat with a passenger-side airbag unless the vehicle is equipped with an air bag on/off switch. For more information about child safety seats and air bags consult Advisory on Airbags and Passenger Sensing Systems.)

Children under 8 years of age who weigh more than 80 pounds to ride properly secured in a seat belt.

Passengers 8 to 18 years of age (regardless of weight) ride properly secured in a seat belt.

For the best possible protection, keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, up to the maximum height or weight limit mandated by the child safety seat manufacturer (this information can be found on a label affixed to the seat and in the seat owner’s manual). Parents should keep infants rear-facing until s/he is at least one year of age and 20 pounds.

When children out grow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age of one and at least 20 pounds), they should ride in forward-facing, child safety seats in the back seat, up to the maximum height or weight limit mandated by the child safety seat manufacturer (this information can be found on a label affixed to the seat and in the seat owner’s manual), which is usually no younger than age 4 and when they weigh at least 40 pounds.

Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually no younger than age 4 and when they weigh at least 40 pounds), they should ride in a booster seat, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).

When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall), they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest). Adults should set a good example for children by buckling up, every ride, whether they are riding in a front or rear seat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q – My son is 7 years old and weighs 83 pounds. Is he required to ride in a booster seat?

A – No. When a child reaches 80 pounds, s/he is no longer required to ride in a booster seat, but must be secured in a properly adjusted seat belt.

Q – My daughter is 8 years old but only weighs 76 pounds. Does she need a booster seat?

A – No. Once a child is 8 years of age, s/he no longer needs to ride in a booster seat, but s/he must be secured in a properly adjusted seat belt.

Note: While the children described above are exempt from the booster seat law, the seat belt may not fit them properly. The lap belt should lay across the child’s upper thigh (the pant’s pocket area) and across the chest and collar bone (so that it’s not cutting into the neck).

Q – I’ve read that some safety experts recommend all children under 4’9” tall should ride in a booster seat, yet New Jersey law requires only those up to age eight or 80 pounds to ride in a booster seat. What should I do?

A – When New Jersey implemented the nation’s first 8/80 booster law in 2001, it was viewed as a dramatic improvement in child passenger safety. At that time, most booster seats were rated for use by children only up to 80 pounds. Many are now rated for use by children up to 100 pounds or more. The federal government now recommends a booster seat for all children up to 4’9” tall, which is considered the minimum height for a passenger to be properly restrained by a seat belt. Booster seats must be used with a lap/shoulder belt. They should never be used with just a lap belt because a child is not fully protected.

Q – How can I determine if my child will be properly protected by the vehicle’s seat belt?

A – Use the seat belt fit test on all children under 13 years of age to be sure they are big enough to safely use the adult seat belt without a booster seat.

  • Have the child sit all the way back on the vehicle seat. Check to see if the knees bend
    naturally at the seat edge. If they do, continue the test. If they do not – the child should continue to ride in a booster seat.
  • Buckle the lap and shoulder belt. Be sure the lap belt lies across the upper legs (the pant’s pocket area). If it lays across the upper thighs, move on to the next step. If it does not, the child should continue to ride in a booster seat.
  • Be sure the shoulder belt lies on the shoulder or collarbone (and is not cutting into the neck). If it lies on the shoulder, move to the next step. If it is on the face or neck, the child should continue to ride in a booster seat. DO NOT place the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the child’s back!

Be sure that your child can maintain the correct seating position for as long as you are in the car. If your child begins to slouch or shift position so the safety belt contacts the face, neck, or abdomen, the child should continue to ride a booster seat until all the steps can be met. 

A – Use the seat belt fit test on all children under 13 years of age to be sure they are big enough to safely use the adult seat belt without a booster seat. 

  • Have the child sit all the way back on the vehicle seat. Check to see if the knees bend
    naturally at the seat edge. If they do, continue the test. If they do not – the child should continue to ride in a booster seat.
  • Buckle the lap and shoulder belt. Be sure the lap belt lies across the upper legs (the pant’s pocket area). If it lays across the upper thighs, move on to the next step. If it does not, the child should continue to ride in a booster seat.
  • Be sure the shoulder belt lies on the shoulder or collarbone (and is not cutting into the neck). If it lies on the shoulder, move to the next step. If it is on the face or neck, the child should continue to ride in a booster seat. DO NOT place the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the child’s back!

Be sure that your child can maintain the correct seating position for as long as you are in the car. If your child begins to slouch or shift position so the safety belt contacts the face, neck, or abdomen, the child should continue to ride a booster seat until all the steps can be met.

Q – My older vehicle has a lap belt only in the center rear seat. My new car has a lap and shoulder belt in the center. Why are they different?

A – Lap and shoulder belts are standard equipment for all seating positions in many vehicles manufactured after 2006, and all vehicles manufactured after 2008. Studies have shown that lap belts are not as effective as lap and shoulder belts in preventing injuries in car crashes. Back seat lap belts reduce the risk of head injuries while increasing the risk of abdominal injuries in potentially fatal frontal crashes. Lap and shoulder belts reduce the risk of head and abdominal injuries in potentially fatal front crashes by 47 and 52 percent, respectively. A lap and shoulder belt system restrain the upper body and head from forward movement better than a lap belt only. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards have changed based on these findings.

Q- What remedies are available for safely restraining children in vehicles equipped only with lap belts in a rear seating position? I know that I cannot use a booster seat in that seating position because a booster seat requires a lap and shoulder belt.

A – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends retro-fitting vehicles with lap and shoulder belts, if possible. (Consult a car dealer for assistance in determining if your vehicle’s lap belts can be retrofitted.) There are also many forward facing child safety seats available with an internal harness that can be used for children weighing more than 40 pounds -many are rated to 80 pounds. The most important thing to remember is that a booster seat cannot be used solely with a lap belt, but a lap belt can secure a forward facing child seat with an internal harness.

For more information: Department of Law and Public Safety