There are grim statistics in Arizona of injuries and death to children not properly restrained in a car seat. Are you aware that many hospitals and birth centers have teams to inspect car seats before a newborn leaves the facility?
The team of legal professionals at The Law Offices of John Phebus wants the public to know the steps in keeping a child safely restrained and complying with the car seat laws in Arizona.
Arizona Car Seat Laws
The state’s car seat laws were enacted to protect, not to punish. It has been proven that a properly installed car seat reduces the risk of injury to a child by 70%.
In Arizona, a child under the age of 5 or under the age of 8 and shorter than 4’9” must be restrained in a federally-approved car or booster seat. State law does not specify the type of seat, only that the seat meets federal regulations.
It should be known that public and school buses are exempt from Arizona’s child safety seat laws.
The Types of Child Safety Seats
- Rear-facing seats
It is critical to utilize a rear-facing seat for infants and babies under age 1 and weighing less than 20 pounds. If a child is older than 1 and exceeds 20 pounds but within the weight or height limit recommended by the manufacturer, then a rear-facing seat can be used until the limits are exceeded. Car seats for infants can only be rear facing.
There are rear-facing seats that can be converted to front-facing and booster seats as the child grows.
- Front-facing seats
This type of seat must be used when a child outgrows the weight and height limits established by the manufacturer of a rear-facing seat.
- Booster seats
Booster seats are seat cushions to elevate the child for seat belts to fit securely. A child must be in a booster seat until their height reaches 4’9”. At this height, a seat belt will fit snugly across the child without the elevation of a booster seat.
To know when a seat belt fits properly, the belt should be snug across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should fit snugly across the chest and shoulder, not the face or neck.
The Properly Installed Seat
Arizona’s child seat laws will be rendered moot if a car seat is not installed correctly and latched. It is imperative that the manufacturer’s instructions be followed.
Generally, if the seat can move from side to side for more than 1”, then the seat is too loose. All rear-facing seats need to be at a 45° angle, and forward-facing seats need to be straight. It is recommended that no after-purchases should be used in the seat, like blankets or pillows behind the child.
As a participant in the Safe Kids Worldwide program, Fire Station #303 in Surprise, Arizona offers a car seat fitting station as a public service.
Penalties for Disobeying Arizona’s Car Seat Laws
As previously mentioned, Arizona’s car seat laws have been enacted to protect not to punish. The violation and the fine at the state level is $50 if a law enforcement officer determines that a child is not properly restrained.
There could be additional violations and fines assessed at the local level.
There are many resources for parents to educate themselves on the proper ways to protect their children in a car. Arizona participates in the Children are Priceless Program (CAPP), and there are many resources at the local level.
It should not take much to incentivize parents to keep their children safe.