As a parent, it is your legal responsibility to keep your child safe while in the car. The law in Connecticut requires all parents and vehicle drivers – with some exceptions for bus and taxi drivers – to use child safety seats to reduce the risk of serious injury in a car accident. Ignoring Connecticut’s car seat laws can lead to fines and endanger your child’s life.
Are Car Seats Required?
Yes, car seats are required in the State of Connecticut. Section 14-100a of the General Statutes of Connecticut outlines all of the state’s safety belt and child restraint system laws. It is your legal responsibility as a parent, legal guardian or the driver of a vehicle that is transporting children to adhere to these laws.
The laws that apply to children are as follows:
If a child is under the age of 8 or weighs less than 60 pounds, he or she must be put in the appropriate child restraint system. The child must also sit in the back seat, as the front passenger seat is dangerous for small children due to the airbag.
If a passenger is over the age of 8 but under 16, the operator of the vehicle must make sure that the child is properly secured in a seat safety belt.
If a driver of a vehicle is under the age of 18, the driver and all passengers must wear seat belts while the vehicle is being driven on any highway.
In addition, adults 18 and older who are driving or sitting in the front passenger seat of a motor vehicle that is equipped with seat belts must wear them while the vehicle is in motion. The only exception to Connecticut’s seat belt law is if a person has a physical disability or impairment that prevents being able to wear a seat belt and has a written statement from a licensed physician as proof.
What Is the Correct Car Seat for My Child?
Connecticut’s car seat law goes into detail in terms of the type of child restraint system that is correct to use according to the age and weight of the child. These distinctions are critical, as placing a child in the incorrect car seat can compromise the ability of the device to protect the child from serious or fatal injuries in a car accident.
There are three different types of child restraint devices:
Rear-facing car seat. If your child is under the age of 2 or weighs less than 30 pounds, he or she should ride in a rear-facing car seat that is equipped with a 5-point harness.
Forward-facing car seat. Once the child is older than 2 and weighs at least 30 pounds, you can move him or her to a forward-facing car seat. The child should stay in either a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness until he or she is at least 5 years old or weighs more than 40 pounds.
Booster seat. Your child can graduate to a booster seat once he or she is older than 5 or weighs more than 40 pounds. Your child should continue using a booster seat until he or she is at least 8 years old and weighs 60 pounds.
Your child will be ready to use a standard seat belt without a child restraint system or booster seat once the straps of the belt sit correctly across the child’s upper thighs and chest. Do not stop using a booster seat until then, as an adult seat belt will not work properly to protect your child if it is not in the right position. If you are not sure which type of car seat is right for your child or need assistance correctly installing and using a child restraint system, find a fitting station near you in Connecticut for help.