Every year, small children get seriously injured and lose their lives in automobile accidents. The most important product in protecting the safety of a child in a car accident is a car seat. For this reason, all 50 states –including Connecticut – have car seat laws. Understanding these laws can help you protect your child and avoid legal repercussions as a driver in Stratford.
Car seats and booster seats save lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car seats reduce the risk of a child injury in a crash by up to 82 percent compared to only using a seat belt. This is why it is critical for parents, guardians and drivers to obey the car seat laws; they are in place for a reason.
In Connecticut, all children under the age of 8 years old and weighing under 60 pounds must use a car seat or booster seat. However, the best practice is to use a booster seat even longer than the minimum legal requirements in Connecticut.
If a police officer catches a driver transporting a child under the age of 8 or 60 pounds without a car seat or booster seat, the penalty is a fine of up to $199. The driver must also attend a two-hour educational course on car seats at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The potential risk to an unrestrained child in a car accident, however, should be enough to convince parents and guardians to use the appropriate car seat.
The type of car seat matters. Using the wrong type of car seat for your child may not adequately protect him or her in a crash. Always read the manufacturer’s directions for a car seat or booster seat. According to state law, these are the types of child safety systems you must use based on your child age and weight:
Never purchase a used car seat or reuse an old car seat from a previous child. Many people do not realize that car seats have expiration dates. Over time, wear and tear and time spent in the sun can weaken the plastic and jeopardize the car seat’s ability to protect a child. You should also check the model you want for known defects or recalls before you buy. A defective car seat may fail to properly protect your child in a car accident.
The answer to this question depends on the law in your specific state. In Connecticut, the minimum required age for a child to graduate from a car seat and switch to a standard seat belt is eight years old. Note, however, that you will have to continue using a car seat or booster seat even after your child turns 8 if he or she is less than 60 pounds. The child must be both 8 years old and 60 pounds to only use a seat belt.