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As a parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure your child is safely secured when you get behind the wheel. Along with making sure your child’s seat belt is properly fastened, you also need to make sure they are in the correct car seat for their weight, height, and age. Illinois car seat laws help parents know what kind of car seat is appropriate for their children. Get to know Illinois’s car seat laws so you can ensure your child is safe during car rides.

The Importance of Car Seats

Image via Unsplash by Sharon McCutcheon

Having the proper car seat, booster seat, or seat belt for your child is one way you can avoid serious injury in the event of a car accident. By following Illinois car seat laws, you are choosing the safest seating option for your child based on their size.

There are many dangers of sitting in the front seat too young. This is because the front passenger seat is designed for adults and not small children. If your child was sitting in your front seat during a collision, the airbag could cause serious injury to them.

Since children are often shorter than adults, front-seat airbags can cause severe head trauma. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, even adults in the front seat should sit at least 10 inches away from the airbag enclosure to avoid injury from impact. Once your child is of age to sit in the front seat, you should move their seat as far back as it can go to avoid injury from airbag deployment.

What Are the Age and Height Requirements for a Car Seats in Illinois?

In 2019, Illinois passed the Child Passenger Protection Act. Under this law, children under the age of two must ride in a rear-facing car seat, unless they are over 40 inches tall or weigh over 40 pounds. This law helps protect the child’s head, neck, and spine from injury since they are quite fragile. When installing your rear-facing car seat, make sure you do not install it in front of an airbag. Regularly check on your child to make sure they are in the correct position.

Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until they are too heavy or tall for the seat. For example, even if your child turns two, if they are under 40 pounds or 40 inches tall, they should still ride in a rear-facing car seat. Once they grow out of this seat, you then need to seat them in a forward-facing seat with a harness system.

When situating your child in a forward-facing seat with a harness system, make sure the harness is comfortable but snug. If the harness is too loose, the child faces the risk of being thrown from their seat in the event of an accident. Once your child is between 4 and 8 years old, it is likely that they will outgrow their car seat and will need to use a booster seat. Refer to your car seat manufacturer to learn when your child is too tall and heavy for that specific car seat.

When Can a Child Use a Booster Seat Instead of a Car Seat?

Once a child is too big for their car seat, they can begin to use a booster seat. Children who are between the ages of 8 to 12, weigh under 80 pounds, and are under 4 foot 9 inches tall should use a booster seat. Of course, this range can vary if your younger child outgrows their car seat and moves up to a booster seat. As soon as your child surpasses these age, weight, and height requirements, they can sit in an adult seat.

When Can a Child Sit in the Front Seat?

In Illinois, your child can sit in the front seat once they turn 13 years old. Keep in mind that if your 13-year-old is small for their age, they should remain in the back passenger seats instead. When transitioning to the front seat, make sure their seat belt properly fits them. The lap belt should fit snuggly across their hips and upper thighs while the shoulder belt should fit across their chest and shoulder. If it is riding up to their neck and face, it is too big or loose for them, and they may need a booster seat.

Additional Illinois Car Seat Laws

Illinois created their car seat laws for the well-being of all children in their state. Remember, it is illegal in Illinois for anyone to put a child in harm’s way, meaning you willfully put a child in a situation that is dangerous to their life and health. For instance, you are breaking this law if you were to leave your child under the age of 6 alone in a motor vehicle for over 10 minutes. This can lead to hefty fines or even jail time.

If you are using public transport in Illinois, such as a bus or train, you may not need to keep your child in these safety restraints. The law is that if you are in a vehicle that weighs more than 9,000 pounds, you are exempt from child passenger safety requirements. Of course, in these settings, it is important to keep your child with you at all times.

Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe on the Road

When purchasing a car seat or booster seat, always register them right away. This way, if the manufacturer issues a recall notice, they can contact you. Another safety tip is to always follow the instructions that come with your car seat or booster seat. By following these instructions, you can ensure your child is seated properly. Children should feel comfortable yet secure in their car seats, so make sure they are never loose-fitting.

Following these Illinois car seat laws can help you keep your child safe while you’re on the road. Continue to keep up with these state laws in the event of any changes. Another important part of following the law is having car insurance. Call American Auto Insurance or contact us online to find out what low-cost insurance deals we offer.