In the state of Illinois, proper use of a car seat isn’t just a recommendation, it’s the law. At American Auto Insurance, we can take your vehicle safety to the next level with affordable and reliable insurance coverage. We offer a wide range of plans including coverage that’s compliant with SR-22 regulations to ensure that you’re always in line with the law. Contact our team at AAI for the cheapest and most reliable Illinois car insurance solutions.

Car Seat Laws

A child in a gray car seat in Illinois.

baby on gray stroller by Alexander Grey is licensed with Unsplash License

The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act requires all children under age 8 to use an appropriate child restraint system when riding in a motor vehicle. The specific requirements for the child’s safety seat vary by height and weight. Though there are general age guidelines, the child’s size is the most important consideration. You should always wait until your child has physically outgrown their current child restraint system before upgrading to the next one, even if they’re older than average for that seat.

Rear-Facing Safety Seat

Illinois law requires all children under age 2 to ride in a rear-facing child safety seat unless they’re more than 40 pounds in weight or more than 40 inches tall.

The safest position for installing this car seat is in the center rear seating location. Children seated in the center of the rear row have a 43% lower risk of injury compared with children in either the rear right or left outboard locations. However, if you have multiple car seats, you may need to position the seat to the right or left. You shouldn’t put a car seat in the front of the vehicle unless there are no other options and you can deactivate the air bag. 

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the installation of the car seat. If you can wiggle the car seat more than 1 inch in any direction, you need to tighten the straps connected to the attachment points. Adjust the positioning of the harness so the slots are at or below your child’s shoulders. Position the chest clip so that it’s even with your child’s armpits. Tighten the harness straps for a snug fit.

Remove your child’s coat before placing them in the car seat, as this creates a bulky barrier between your child and the harness. To keep your baby warm, you may put a coat or blanket over the top of the buckled harness instead. You may also place towels that are tightly rolled alongside your baby for head and neck support.

Forward-Facing Safety Seat

When your child reaches the upper height and weight limits for the rear-facing car seat, they may transition to a forward-facing car seat. This typically happens between 2 and 4 years old. In the forward-facing position, harness straps should sit at or above your child’s shoulder. The harness clip should still sit at the armpit level.

Booster Seat

Children may transition to a booster seat when they exceed the height and weight limits of their forward-facing car seat. This usually occurs between 4 and 8 years old. Always use both a shoulder and lap belt with the booster seat. Make sure the lap belt lies low across your child’s upper thighs and the shoulder strap crosses the middle of your child’s chest and shoulder. Adjust the back of the booster seat so it’s above your child’s ears. 

Standard Lap and Shoulder Belt

Children can transfer to a regular seat and adult seat belt when they’re about 4 feet, 9 inches tall. This is typically between the ages of 8 and 12. Your child should sit against the back of the seat with their knees bent comfortably at the edge of the seat, and their feet should sit flat on the floor.

The lap belt should lie across your child’s hips and upper thighs, and the shoulder belt must rest on the middle of their chest and shoulder. Children should continue to ride in the back seat until they’re at least 13 years old.

Proper Car Seat Installation

All child safety seats should be federally approved and no more than 6 years old. Car seats have an expiration date stamped on them to let you know how long they’ll remain safe. You shouldn’t use any seat for which you don’t know the full history. Most thrift and resale stores won’t accept used car seats for this purpose.

The Illinois Keep Me In a Safe Seat Program provides child safety seat inspections at driver service facilities throughout the state. You can request a child safety seat inspection via an online form. It’s always best to have your car seat inspected by a professional before using it for your child.

Car Safety for Children

Help your children stay safe in the car by keeping loose items secured so they can’t fly about if you brake quickly or get into an accident. Never leave your child in the car unattended, even if it’s in park. It’s a violation of the law to leave a child 6 years of age or younger unattended in a motor vehicle for more than 10 minutes. 

Help protect those in your vehicle as well as others on the road by carrying the proper car insurance at all times. American Auto Insurance can help you select the right coverage for your needs and set up an affordable plan.

Penalties for Neglecting Car Safety

The penalty for failure to comply with the Child Passenger Protection Act is $75 for the first offense. The violator is eligible for court supervision if they provide the court with documented proof that they’ve completed an instructional course on the installation of their child restraint system and installed the seat properly. A subsequent violation is a petty offense subject to a $200 fine and not eligible for court supervision.

If you leave a child age 6 or under alone in a car, you’re guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and subject to a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine if convicted. A second violation is a Class 3 felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Protect Your Family on the Road

American Auto Insurance can help you navigate all the complexities of keeping your family safe on the road, including finding child seat inspection locations, understanding deductibles, exploring insurance options, navigating the SR-22 process by providing cheap SR22 quotes, and providing proof of coverage. Call now for personalized assistance with all your car insurance needs.


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