It’s easy to understand that infants should be safely strapped into infant car seats before they get buckled into your vehicle for the ride home from the hospital. But infants have a way of growing into larger versions of the human animal – versions that no longer fit comfortably in that adorable little car seat you got at your baby shower.
Precisely when do children outgrow the need for child safety seats? What’s the scoop on when they can move up to just a seatbelt? Here we break down Georgia’s child seat safety statute to remove any confusion you may have about Georgia O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.
- Children under eight years of age in a passenger car van, or pickup truck, (anything other than a taxicab or a public transit vehicle,) shall be properly restrained in a child passenger restraining system appropriate for such child’s height and weight. The restraining device must be approved by the United States Department of Transportation.
- Infants must be strapped into the car facing the rear of the vehicle. This is because the bones in their spines are not strong enough yet to resist the incredible forces of a car crash. At age 3 – 5, their bones are better able to support their disproportionately large heads and they may face forward from then on.
- In Georgia, children aged 3 years and above may use an alternative device like the Ride-Safer travel vest, which is also approved by the Department of Transportation.
- Children eight years of age or younger must ride in the back seat. However, if the back seat is occupied by other passengers your child may ride in the front seat, but he or she must be secured in a booster or child safety seat.
- If your child reaches the height of 4’9″ before age 8, he or she can legally ride in an adult seat belt.
- An exemption is also available for children who have a medical or physical condition that prevents them from being properly restrained according to the law. If your child cannot use a standard booster seat or child restraint seat, you must carry a written statement from a physician to qualify for this exemption.
- Children who weigh more than 40 pounds can legally ride in a lap-only belt instead of a child restraint but only if that’s all that is available in the vehicle. A lap-only belt without a booster is also legal for children weighing 40 pounds or more if all other seating positions with lap and shoulder belts are being used by other children. If you find yourself with more children than child restraints, try to rearrange the placement of child restraints in order to protect each child as much as possible.
In case you don’t remember what it was like before child safety seats were required, know that back then there was really no safe way to transport a small child. Back in the days when a “car seat” was merely miniature aluminum chair that simply hooked over the back of the adult seat, children were very often injured or killed when they were sent hurtling around the cab of the car at the moment of a crash. Today, we are privileged to have so many options. When you shop for a child seat, take time to do your homework carefully before you invest in the right seat. It is an investment that can make the difference between life and death for your little one.
If you’d like information about car seat safety, feel free to contact The Millar Law Firm Georgia Personal Injury Lawyers by phone at 770-400-0000 or visit our website at atlantaadvocate.com.