Booster seats are incredibly important safety systems for child passengers in motor vehicles. They lift a child to the correct height to be able to use the vehicle’s safety belts. In the US in 2017, about 116,000 children 12 and younger were injured and 675 died in motor vehicle accidents. Car crashes are a leading cause of child death. The use of a booster seat with a seat belt could save a child from serious or fatal injuries in an auto accident.
Restraint System Requirements for Children
Booster seats are not just a wise choice for child safety – they are a legal requirement under Arizona Revised Statute 28-907. This law says that no person can operate a motor vehicle when transporting a child four years old or younger without first properly securing the child in a child restraint system. In addition, all passengers who are at least 5 but under 8 years old and who are not taller than 4’9” must use child restraint systems in all vehicles designed for carrying 10 or fewer passengers.
- Rear-facing car seats. Infants and toddlers should start in rear-facing car seats designed for this age group. Car seats are safest in the back seat of the vehicle.
- Forward-facing car seats. Toddlers who reach the maximum height or weight limit of the rear-facing seat (usually around two years old) should graduate to a forward-facing seat.
- Booster seat. Children should remain in car seats until reaching the manufacturer’s limit – usually, once they have reached 4’9” and 8 to 12 years old.
- Seat belt. After graduating from a booster seat, all children should wear safety belts while in the car. Children under 13 should ride in the back seat.
If you are not sure what type of restraint system is right for your child, read reviews and ask child safety experts. For assistance properly installing a car seat or booster seat in your vehicle, visit a free fitting station in your community. Fitting stations have trained professionals available to help parents with child restraint systems at specific dates and times.
What Is Legally Recognized as a Child Restraint System?
ARS 28-907(c) states that child restraint systems for use in motor vehicles in Arizona must obey 49 Code of Federal Regulations section 571.213 in terms of design, installation and performance. This standard states that each child restraint system must pass certain federal safety tests and inspections. When shopping for a safety-approved booster seat, look for one designed for children who are your child’s height and weight. You can choose from a booster seat with or without a back. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for your purchase. Do not use a booster seat until your child is tall enough to sit with the shoulder belt snugly across the center of the chest and the lap belt across the top of the thighs.
Exceptions to the Law and Fines
Arizona’s child restraint system law only has a few exceptions. The law will not apply to someone with a motor vehicle that was originally manufactured without seat belts, someone operating a recreational or commercial motor vehicle, a person transporting a child for an emergency, or an authorized emergency vehicle operator transporting a child for medical care. Someone transporting multiple children under eight years old in a car that does not have enough space for the required number of safety seats may also not use car seats, as long as that person puts as many children as possible in child restraint systems.
Breaking Arizona’s booster seat or child restraint law could lead to a fine of up to $50 per violation. The offender has a chance to avoid the $50 fine, however, if he or she subsequently shows the installation of an approved child restraint system in the motor vehicle. If a child suffers an injury in a car accident while not using a child restraint system, the parent or guardian may also face additional charges, such as child endangerment.