Jeffrey E. Johnston

When is my child too big for their safety seat?

Grandparents, babysitters, siblings and friends may remember the days when there weren’t any laws about how you transported your children in a vehicle.

However, today, Georgia has very specific rules about how old a child must be before he or she can ditch a safety seat.

Children under 8

If you or a friend is transporting a child who is under the age of 8 years old, it’s illegaland dangerous — not to use a United States-approved child restraint system.

For children at this age, the restraint system will likely be a booster seat that allows him or her to use their seat belt correctly. Typically, a child that reaches a height of 4 foot, 9 inches will be able to fasten their seatbelt so that it lays properly.

However, it’s a good idea to keep a child in their booster seat until their height or weight exceed the manufacturer’s specifications on the seat. For some children, this could mean using a booster seat up until age 12.

Condition of the seat

As your child continues to use their booster seat regularly, it’s entirely possible that it goes through some wear and tear. A worn booster seat does not mean that your child has outgrown it.

However, it could put the child in danger in an accident. You may need to look for a replacement if you are noticing discoloration, frayed straps, malfunctions with the buckle, cracks, bends or other factors that make the chair unstable.

Types of booster seats

As your child grows or the type of vehicle you drive changes, you should look into different types of booster seats for your child. Booster seats may have a high-back, no back at all or some combination of the two.

Backless boosters are most common, but if your vehicle doesn’t have headrests and high seat backs, you should use a high-back booster seat instead.

Booster seats help your child sit up higher so that their seatbelt can be fastened correctly. If a lap belt is across a child’s stomach, instead of their upper thighs, they need a booster seat. Similarly, the shoulder belt should not cross the child’s neck.

When something goes wrong

Booster seats are a proven method to keep kids safe when something goes wrong. In fact, children who use a booster seat are 59 percent less likely to be injured in a crash.

However, if a care provider is involved in a crash while transporting your child, you should seek compensation if they neglected to use a child restraint system properly. After an accident, seek out the help of an attorney to seek justice and a speedy recovery.

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Jeffrey E. Johnston

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