Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injury death among children ages nineteen and under. Despite this danger, in Alabama, 4.17% of children under age five are not buckled into a car seat when riding in a vehicle. Car seat laws in Alabama are designed to keep children safe and ensure that parents take action to prevent unnecessary harm to their children on the roads.
Following car seat requirements and best-use guidelines published by experts and manufacturers can help keep your children safe if an accident, sudden stop, or other incident occurs. It can also keep you from getting a ticket and facing fines if the police stop you and your child is not properly restrained.
Alabama Child Car Seat Types
Under Alabama car seat laws, most children must be in a car seat deemed appropriate for their age and weight. It is important to remember that many of these laws require you to keep your child in a more protective position or seat until they reach their car seat’s height or weight limits. According to Alabama Public Health:
Rear-Facing Car Seats
Children under one year old or twenty pounds must be strapped into a rear-facing, infant-only or convertible car seat. Some parents worry about their child’s feet touching the back of the vehicle’s seat, but because children can easily bend their knees, it is very rare for an infant child’s legs to be injured when riding in a rear-facing car seat.
Some seats allow for extended rear-facing. This means you could leave your child in this position until they reach their seat’s weight or height limit, which could be well beyond their first birthday.
Front-Facing Car Seats
After outgrowing a rear-facing seat, children between one and five years old or weighing up to forty pounds should ride in a forward-facing car seat. Because a car seat with a harness is the safest way for children of this age to ride in a vehicle, parents should try to have their children in a front-facing car seat for as long as possible.
Many children can remain in this type of seat until they are five or six years old, depending on their weight and the seat you choose.
When a child’s weight or height exceeds the limits of their forward-facing car seat, it is time to move them to a belt-positioning booster. This is used with the lap and shoulder belt in the vehicle.
Children should remain in a booster until they reach at least 4’9” and the car’s seat belts fit them properly. This is often between ages 8 and 12. All children under age 13 should always ride in the backseat because of the dangers posed by airbags and other safety concerns in the front seat.
Alabama car seat laws require children five to six years old to be buckled into a booster seat. Even though the law does not require a booster seat after age six, a child will ideally use a booster seat until they are between eight and twelve years old. Before that age, children are usually too small to use adult seat belts safely.
When using a booster seat, parents need to remember that using the lap belt alone will not safely restrain their little one—a belt across the child’s chest is also required for the booster seat to do its job.
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What Happens When You don’t Use the Right Car Seat?
The greatest consequence of not using the appropriate car seat is, obviously, the danger of a child’s life in an accident. Children who are not properly restrained are at a much greater risk of severe injuries than adults because the safety features inside modern vehicles were designed with adults in mind. Seat belts can injure small children, and airbags can cause devastating impairments or even death.
No one wants their child to suffer even scrapes and bruises when they are avoidable. Making the right decision about which car seat is right for your child and works best in your vehicle is an easy way to safeguard your little ones against potentially serious, life-altering injuries. It will give you peace of mind, too.
In addition to the risk of injury or even death to child passengers, breaking Alabama car seat laws can also result in a ticket and a $25 fine, and possible points against your driver’s license. You can avoid this simply by following the law and ensuring your child is in the proper seat for their age and weight.
Safely Using a Car Seat to Protect Your Child
If a parent is using a car seat to protect their child, that seat is only effective if it is properly installed in the vehicle. Alarmingly, over ninety percent of children’s car seats are not installed correctly. This is a serious danger for children, and parents need to be vigilant in making sure car seats are installed and used properly. Many resources are available to help you ensure a car seat is correctly installed.
You can also call The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Auto Safety Hotline to find child car seat inspections in your area. Many fire stations and police stations also offer these services. You can check with your local first responders to see if they can install or check your child’s seat for you.
If you or someone you know cannot afford a proper car seat for a child, there are resources in Alabama to assist with this. Many car seat distribution programs will either provide the appropriate car seat for free or allow people to rent a car seat. You can find many of these programs online. No matter what it takes, it is crucial that parents follow Alabama car seat laws and always check their children’s safety seats to ensure everyone can travel as safely as possible on the roads.
Morris Bart & Associates, LLC Attorneys Are Experienced in Helping Parents with Auto Accident Claims
Dealing with a collision can be a lot easier if you have an attorney on your side, especially if your child was injured in the accident. The Alabama personal injury attorneys at the Morris Bart law office have decades of experience dealing with the complexities of insurance claims and car accidents. If you or your child were involved in an accident, call the Morris Bart law firm for a free consultation.
We’re available 24/7, and we’d like to help you get the money you deserve. We have several locations across Alabama. Connect with a lawyer today by calling (800) 537-8185.
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