Your children’s safety and well-being are your highest priority-this includes keeping them safe in the car-That means using a car seat. But what are Georgia’s car seat laws? Children under a certain age or weight must be in an approved child-restraint system. The required type varies, depending on the child’s age, height, and weight.
It might seem cumbersome, but Georgia’s car seat laws are designed to protect your children while they’re passengers in motor vehicles. These laws outline the specific requirements for child car seats and restraints, helping to reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities in the event of a crash. Read on to learn more about car seat laws and ensure you’re keeping your child safe.
Did your child sustain injuries in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence? Let the skilled lawyers at MG Law help you determine the best course of legal action.
An Overview of Car Seat Laws in Georgia
Georgia’s car seat law mandates that children under eight years old and shorter than four feet and nine inches (57 inches) must be properly restrained in a federally approved child safety seat or booster seat that is appropriate for their age, weight, and height. The law outlines specific requirements for children at various stages of development.
When Are Rear-Facing Car Seats Required for Children?
If your child is under one or has not yet reached the maximum weight or height limit for their rear-facing car seat, they must be secured in a rear-facing car seat. The car seat manufacturer sets forth the specifications, but Georgia law sets the weight at less than 20 pounds. In general, rear-facing seats provide the best protection for infants and toddlers. You want them as far away as possible from the front airbags.
When to Use Forward-Facing Car Seats
Once a child outgrows their rear-facing car seat, they must transition to a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness. Manufacturers design these seats for children who have surpassed the rear-facing car seat’s weight and height limits. That typically happens between two and four years old. However, a child under 20 pounds who is one to three years old still requires a rear-facing car seat.
When to Use a Booster Seat
Children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat must use a belt-positioning booster seat until they are at least eight years old or until they reach 57 inches in height. Booster seats raise children so the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts fit correctly, reducing the risk of injury in a crash. Even a child in a booster seat should be in the rear until they are at least 13 years old.
Exceptions to the Car Seat Laws in Georgia
There are a few exceptions to Georgia’s car seat law. For example, children who have a medical condition or physical disability that makes the use of a child safety seat or booster seat inappropriate may be exempt from these requirements, provided that they have written documentation from a physician.
If there is no rear seat in the vehicle (i.e., a truck), or you have other restrained children in the back, then a child under eight can sit in the front if they weigh at least 40 pounds and have the proper booster seat or car seat.
Additionally, the law on car seats does not apply to taxis or public transit vehicles. However, it applies to rideshare vehicles like Lyft or Uber. That’s because these services don’t meet the definition of a taxi or public transit vehicle. Rideshare drivers who don’t follow the car seat laws could also face penalties if pulled over.
What Are the Penalties in Georgia for Non-Compliance?
Failing to comply with Georgia’s car seat laws can result in fines and other penalties. If you’re stopped once for non-compliance, the fine is $50. Subsequent offenses are $100. However, you might receive one point on your driving record for each violation. That means you could wind up with a suspended license. Police in Georgia can also pull you over for a car seat violation independently—you don’t need to do anything else wrong or suspicious.
Tips for Proper Car Seat Installation and Use
Having an age-appropriate car seat is only the first step. Installing and using the car seat correctly is crucial to ensure your child’s safety. Misuse of the car seat can have catastrophic results. Here are some tips for proper car seat installation and use:
- Always follow the car seat manufacturer’s instructions. These guidelines will help you correctly install and use the car seat, maximizing its safety features.
- Periodically check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website for car seat recalls. This research will help ensure your child’s car seat is still safe.
- When using a booster seat, ensure the lap belt sits low and snug across your child’s upper thighs. The shoulder belt should cross the chest and shoulder, not the neck or face.
- If you need help installing or using a car seat, seek assistance from a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST) or visit a car seat inspection station. Safe Kids Georgia offers a list of car seat inspection stations and events throughout the state.
- Register your car seat with the manufacturer to receive essential updates, recall information, and safety notifications. Registering the car seat can help you stay informed and ensure your child’s car seat remains safe and effective.
- Car seats have expiration dates, usually around six years from manufacturing. Be sure to replace your child’s car seat when it expires or if it has been involved in a moderate to severe crash.
Always take the extra seconds to ensure the car seat is properly installed and the seat is tight and secure. Loose seats or loose and misaligned harnesses can cause your child to suffer severe injuries during an accident. Something as simple as keeping your child’s coat on can affect the effectiveness of the harness. You want the harness to fit snugly. That doesn’t happen when the child wears heavy clothing, such as a thick coat.
Contact One of Our Attorneys Today
Car seat laws for children in GA are important to understand, especially if you have young children yourself. As a parent, you must do your part and follow the rules and ensure your child is in the correct type of restraint installed correctly. However, you can’t always control other drivers on the road. If a negligent motorist strikes your vehicle and causes harm to your baby, you can file a claim for damages. At MG Law, we have years of experience assisting families whose children have suffered injuries due to a negligent driver. If you have questions as to what are Georgia’s car seat laws, contact our office to schedule an initial consultation. We know that reading the official code sections can be hard to understand. Let us break it down into easy-to-understand terms so you know you understand the car seat laws in Georgia.