Part of going for a drive in Illinois is ensuring you’ve secured your seat belt before starting your adventure. It not only helps keep you and your passengers safe, but it’s also the law in Illinois. Understanding what the seat belt law entails can help ensure you and your passengers comply, and an also helps when it comes to insurance claims.
Our American Auto Insurance team made this guide detailing that law and why wearing seat belts is important, including how we can help when it comes to getting affordable insurance coverage if you’re current provider increases premiums if you’ve been in an accident and weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Keep on reading to learn more.
What Are the Seat Belt Laws in Illinois?
Seat belts are an important safety feature, but there are also laws revolving around their use in Illinois. To keep it simple, you must use a safety belt or a child restraint system, no matter your age. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what that means:
- All drivers and passengers 8 years and older must wear a seat belt.
- All passengers under 8 years old must use an appropriate child restraint system.
These requirements include all drivers and passengers, regardless of their preferences or capabilities. If passengers can’t secure their safety belts, the driver must do it for them and ensure all passengers are using their safety belts or restraint systems properly.
Car Safety for Children
If passengers are under 8 years old, they need an appropriate child restraint system. But what does that mean? A child restraint system, or a car seat, is a forward or rear-facing, hard-backed child safety seat. These seats have a five-point safety belt system incorporated into them that secures the child to the seat. Depending on the child’s age, weight, and height, they can use a rear or front-facing child restraint system. You can then secure it to the vehicle through a latch system, a car seat base, or by using the vehicle’s safety belt.
If a child has outgrown a traditional car seat, they graduate to a booster seat. A booster seat can be a whole seat system with its own safety belt or boost the child to where they can safely use the vehicle’s car seat and have it perform as intended in case of an emergency.
Penalties for Not Wearing a Seat Belt
The penalties for not wearing a seat belt include fines, court costs, and other charges. The severity of these penalties varies between situations and cases. Generally, the penalties for not following this state law include the following:
- A fine of $75 for the first offense.
- A fine of $200 for a subsequent offense and a petty offense charge.
What Is the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act?
Aside from ensuring that children under 8 are properly secured, the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act goes even further into what this means to ensure child safety and security. This act includes specific information for different age groups, ensuring they’re in proper child restraint systems to optimize their safety in case of a collision. Here’s a breakdown of each age group:
Newborn to 2 Years Old
Illinois law requires seating and securing all children aged 2 and under in a rear-facing child restraint system. To ensure proper installation, follow the recline indicator, use the harness straps or slots at or immediately below shoulder level, verify the harness straps are snug on the child, and check to ensure the harness clip is at armpit level.
Ages 2 to 4
Children between 2 and 4 should also ideally be in a rear-facing car seat until they exceed the height or weight limit of the restraint system. They can then transition to a forward-facing system with a harness. Like the rear-facing system, ensure that harness straps are snug on the child and verify the harness clip is at armpit level. Unlike the previous system, harness straps or slots should be at or just above shoulder level, and the top of the child’s ears should not be above the top of the car seat.
Ages 4 to 8
Those in this age group can sit in a forward-facing system until they exceed the height or weight limit before transitioning to a belt-positioning booster seat. The belt is used with the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt and should lie low across the upper thighs and rest snuggly across the shoulder and chest rather than the neck or face. If the booster seat is backless, adjust the seat’s headrest.
Why Is Wearing a Seat Belt Important?
A seat belt isn’t for keeping people in their proper seats. It’s crucial for safety in case of a collision. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there’s a 45% reduction in the risk of fatal injuries to front-seat passengers who wear lap and shoulder belts. This risk is even less concerning critical injuries and for those in the back seat wearing seat and lap belts.
Ensuring you’re wearing a seat belt, especially in the case of a collision, can also affect your insurance costs. You might see premium prices increase if you weren’t wearing your seat belt in a collision, regardless of whether you were at fault. In some cases, this can cause an insurance company to reject your claim entirely, putting you at risk of covering damages and medical bills on your own.
If your insurance company opts not to pay damages or medical bills, you might have to search for a new insurance company to find a lower premium. If you’ve experienced this, consider American Auto Insurance. We’ll work with you to get the coverage you need at a price that fits your budget. We also offer SR-22 insurance to help you get back on the road faster.
Do You Have Questions About Seat Belt Laws or Auto Insurance?
If you have questions about Illinois seat belt laws or how they can affect your insurance premiums, feel free to reach out and contact us today. Our associates will happily answer your questions about deductibles and coverage options and walk you through the entire auto insurance and SR-22 process. We look forward to hearing from you soon. Call 773-286-3500.