The past few years have brought a lot of updates to car seat laws. Here are the car seat law changes for 2018. We also share some states that attempted change but the law did not pass.
Remember the state laws are generally the minimum standard for car seat use. For safer travels with your little one, familiarize yourself with best practice recommendations and perhaps visit with a local child passenger safety technician to discuss your specific needs.
House Bill 4377 changes the state car seat law (statute 625 ILCS 25/4) to extend the rear-facing age requirement to 2 years old. This law goes into effect January 1, 2019.
What was it: Children under the age of 8 years shall be secured in an appropriate child restraint system. Child restraint system meaning any device which meets the standards of the United States Department of Transportation designed to restrain, seat or position children, which also includes a booster seat.
What is it now: The same but adds the provision that children must remain in a rear-facing seat until they are 2-years-old unless the child is at least 40 pounds or 40 inches tall.
Bill LB42 amends statute 60-6,267. The new car seat law extends the amount of time a child needs to use a child restraint and extends the amount of time an child needs to remain rear facing. This law goes into effect January 1, 2019.
What was it: All children up to age six must ride correctly secured in a federally-approved child safety seat. Children ages six and over up to age eighteen must ride secured in a safety belt or child safety seat.
What is it now: All children up to age eight must be transported using a correctly installed child passenger restraint system which meet FMVSS 213 standards and in a rear seat. Children up to two years of age shall use a rear-facing child passenger restraint system until the child outgrows the system per manufacturer’s maximum allowable height or weight. Children ages eight and over up to age eighteen must ride secured in an occupant protection system.
House bill 708 changes car seat law in Virginia to require children to remain rear-facing up to age 2. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2019.
What was it: Children up to age 8 must be restrained with a child restraint device. Safety seats must be properly used and approved by Department of Transportation standards (FMVSS 213). Rear-facing child restraint devices must be placed in the back seat of a vehicle. In the event the vehicle does not have a back seat, the child restraint device may be placed in the front passenger seat only if the vehicle is either not equipped with a passenger side airbag or the passenger side airbag has been deactivated.
What is it now: The same with the addition of this text, Such child restraint device shall be rear-facing until the child reaches two years of age or the child reaches the weight or height limit of the rear-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the such device, whichever occurs later.
Perhaps next year
Other states that attempted to pass car seat law changes for 2018 to extend rear facing to 2 years of age:
- Massachusetts: Senate bill 1903 to enhance rear facing requirements has switched committees several times and still was not heard.
- Michigan: HB4951 passed the House and stalled in Senate committee.
- Missouri: House Bill 2304 was meant to extend the rear-facing requirement from 1 years old to 2 years old. It appears the bill was referred to another committee and was not heard.
- Texas: House Bill 519 and Senate Bill 278 passed both chambers but never made it to the floor for a final vote. They will have to start all over again when the legislature convenes again in 2019.
Previously nine states passed laws to extend how long a child is required to remain rear-facing. These include:
- in 2015
- New Jersey
- in 2016
- in 2017
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Even as these states are increasing rear facing limits because the American Academy of Pediatrics increased the national standard back in 2011 to age 2. Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics increased the standard again to what car seat experts have been expressing for years: keep the car seat rear-facing for as long as possible until the maximum height or weight allowed by the seat is reached.
Remember car seat safety experts consider state laws to be a minimum requirement. It is best to talk with a Child Passenger Safety technician and follow best practice recommendations as closely as possible.
Oklahoma: Addition to car restraint law stalled
House bill 3026 proposed to add a restraint law for children ages 8 to 13. Currently Oklahoma does not have a law for children this age to be buckled up in the back seat. The proposal states car crashes injured or killed 5,198 children in this age bracket in the last five years in Oklahoma. 660 of those were not properly restrained in a car seat or seat belt. The bill passed in the House and moved to the Senate where it stalled.
You can see further details, notes and the remainder of the car seat laws by state here.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
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