2018 Alabama Car Seat Laws
The way you strap your child into a car seat can mean the difference between life and death in an auto accident. In fact, 35% of children 12 and under who died in car accidents in 2016 were not properly buckled up, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You might not be able to prevent an auto accident, but you may avoid serious child injuries by following all the laws and best practices for car seat safety. Improve your child’s safety while in the car starting here, with an outline of the related state laws.
Mandatory Child Car Seats
The Department of Motor Vehicles states that all children must use appropriate child safety seats while in vehicles in the state of Alabama. The type of seat depends on the age, weight, and height of the child. Always follow the instructions on the car seat to know when to switch your child to the next type of safety restraint device. Certain organizations offer assistance if you aren’t sure which type of car seat is right for your child. The general rules are as follows:
- Child up to 12 months old or up to 20 pounds. Newborns up to one year old should sit in rear-facing child car seats designed for infants. Install these car seats in the backseat of the vehicle to keep the infant the safest. If your child is over one year old but under 20 pounds, continue using the rear-facing seat until he or she exceeds the weight recommendation for the seat.
- Child one to seven years old, or up to 40 pounds. From ages one to around seven, put children in forward-facing child safety seats. Keep the child in the backseat, if possible. Children should generally stay in forward-facing car seats until they reach 40 pounds. Then, they can upgrade to the next level.
- Child eight to 12 years old, or until able to use a seatbelt. Booster seats are appropriate for children 40 pounds and heavier, until he or she is tall enough for a lap seatbelt to fit correctly. Booster seats may either have high backs or no backs. They lift a child to the correct height so that the seatbelt crosses his/her chest and lap correctly. Once your child is old enough for the belt to fit correctly without a booster, he or she can use a standard seatbelt.
Always follow the directions on your specific child safety device. Move your child to the next stage when he or she meets the height or weight limit for the seat. Do not put a child under the age of 12 in the front passenger seat of the vehicle if you can avoid it. The front airbag is too strong to properly protect children in an accident. Use a Car Seat Finder if you don’t know the type of seat to buy. Make sure the brand you purchase isn’t on any car seat recall lists.
What Happens If You Break Alabama’s Car Seat Laws?
It is illegal to drive with an unrestrained child in the vehicle, no matter how short the drive. Parents and guardians must always strap their children in appropriate car seats, or else run the risk of fines and other legal trouble. It is a $25 fine not to have children in car seats or seatbelts. Children up to the age of 15 must wear seatbelts in the backseat in Alabama. After the age of 15, the passenger can choose whether to wear a seatbelt in the backseat. Drivers and front-seat passengers must always wear seatbelts.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death in children one to 13 years old. Failing to strap your child into the correct safety device can greatly increase the odds of serious and fatal injuries in an auto accident. Not only is it against the law – it’s an act of negligence. Always use the proper car seat when transporting children.