In past decades, when a child outgrew a car seat, he or she simply used a seat belt and perhaps even sat in the front seat. However, in more recent years, research has shown that regular seat belts do not adequately protect—and may even cause more harm to—children of a certain age and/or size. This is because adult seat belts do not rest correctly across smaller children. Safety belts should rest across a passenger’s shoulder and chest, as well as across the lower part of the hip or thigh. For smaller children, seat belts instead rest across their neck and belly, which can cause choking or other serious injuries should the belt lock in a collision.
In response to the research regarding the dangers of seat belts and children, many states—including Georgia—enacted specific laws to keep smaller kids safe while riding in motor vehicles. These laws require children of a certain age or size to use a booster seat after they have outgrown a traditional car seat. Statistics show that booster seats reduce the risk of injury to children in a collision by 59 percent compared to children only using a seat belt. Every parent in the Atlanta area should be aware of the booster seat laws in Georgia and always comply with these laws to keep their children safe.
What are the booster seat requirements in Georgia?
Since 2011, every child under the age of 8 years riding in a passenger vehicle, truck, or van must be secured in a booster seat or car seat that meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) provides an easy-to-use list of car and booster seat ratings for parents to select the correct booster seat.
Additionally, the booster seat must be correctly installed in the back seat (all children under the age of 8 are required to sit in the back seat by law) and must be the correct seat for the height and weight of the child in question.
There are a few exemptions and exceptions to the booster seat requirements in Georgia, which are as follows:
A physician has provided a written statement that the child suffers from a medical or physical condition that does not allow them to be restrained in a booster seat in accordance with the law.
The child is taller than 57 inches or 4’9”.
The child weighs more than 40 pounds and all other seating positions conducive to booster seats are already occupied by other children. In this situation, parents should evaluate how to position all booster or car seats in a way to best protect all children riding in the vehicle.
If you fail to follow the booster seat laws in Georgia, not only are you putting your child in danger of injury in an accident, but you may also face receiving a traffic citation, having points against your license, and paying a fine.
If you or your child has been involved in a car accident, please contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Atlanta office of Goldstein & Hayes for a free consultation as soon as possible.