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8 to 14-Year-Olds Need to be Safe in the Car Too

teen driving

Most state child seat laws go up to 8 years of age, which is much better than those few states that don’t and the one that only goes up to 5 (we’re not naming any names but you know who you are, Florida).

What about the children between the ages of 8 and 14? 8 to 14-year-olds need to be safe too! Children typically don’t fit into the vehicle seat belt until they are 4’9″. Most 8-year-olds are not yet that tall. Many children don’t fit the seat belt properly and pass the 5-step test until they are closer to 12. Those children still need a child restraint like a RideSafer or booster seat.


Here are some stats provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation and CPS Colorado:

  • In 2012, approximately 2,474 children aged 8-14 were injured in motor vehicle crashes, and eight children were killed. Please make sure your children are properly restrained!
  • Kids in a booster seat are 45% less likely to be injured in a crash (CDC). Avoid the consequences and make sure your kids are in the proper seat based on their height and weight.
  • In 2012, 37% of 8-15 year olds killed in car crashes were in the front seat. Most children are moved to the front seat too soon. Make sure your tweens remain sitting in the back seat!
  • In 2012, 80% of kids that were killed in traffic crashes were between the ages of 8 and 15. Should your child be in a booster seat? Are they sitting in the front seat too soon? Make sure your children are properly restrained in your vehicle!
  • A car moving as slow as 16 MPH can deploy airbags in a collision! How fast does a tornado move? Roughly 200MPH. Airbags move at a similar speed. Between 1990 and 2008, 90% of airbag fatalities were children and infants (NHTSA).
car seat safety newsletter

Don’t let your children move up to the front or move to just the seat belt too early — drive smart, be safe and avoid consequences that are preventable.

Download the infographic PDF

Do you follow these recommendations for your older child? Share your comments below.

Copyright 2016 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.

This post was originally published August 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


  1. I have one of these travel vest,but it hard to get his arms in and out of it and fitting to snug around the waist with no way to adjust it out more. do you make a XL size? I like the vest better than a car seat, bu having a problem fitting him up. My child is 13yrs old ,but has CP with torso control due to weekness, he is handicap. I really could use a larger size if you can help me out.

    1. We know there is a need for a XL RideSafer Travel Vest. We’ve been told the manufacturer is considering this but we do not know what sort of time frame he is planning. In the meantime, the EZ-On vest is an option for older/larger children with special needs.

  2. Do you mean that 14-year-olds should ride in a carseat with a 5 point harness or just a booster seat?

    1. “Many children don’t fit the seat belt properly and pass the 5-step test until they are closer to 12. Those children still need a child restraint like a RideSafer or booster seat.” This means that if a 14-year-old passes the 5 step test, they can sit with just the seat belt.

  3. My 8 year old has trouble sleeping sitting up. He is a big strong boy and has not used a booster for about a year. He says the only way he can sleep is if he lies down but then of course the cross belt on his seatbelt isn’t affixed correctly. Could you please DETAIL if this is legal, if this is safe, etc?

    1. I feel for him. I have the same trouble. However, lying down does not allow the seat belt to be properly positioned on the child. In my experience lying down puts the seat belt at the belly. If a crash were to occur the seat belt would impact the soft tissue of the belly and cause injury. So it is definitely not a safe position. Most states require children be “properly” restrained. A lying down position, even buckled, may be considered not proper and therefore illegal.

  4. My son is 13 90 pounds and is 5 3. The seat belt in are car are stuck in the higest level and now he does not pass the 5 step test should we get him in a car seat?

    1. Legally, it depends on your state and probably no. But safety wise, best practice is to make sure they pass the 5-step seat belt fit test so yes. Is there a way to take the car to the dealer and have them fix the seat belts so they aren’t stuck in the top position?

    1. As stated in the article, most children can pass the 5-step test when they are 4’9″ so you likely fit properly in the seat belt. This article is sharing how this age group is still seeing a lot of injuries in crashes because some of these children are sitting in just the seat belt or sitting in the front seat too early. It will vary by child’s size and age. What we want to emphasize is proper use of booster seat, if still needed, and proper seating in the vehicle.

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