Car accidents are a leading cause of death for children under 14 years of age. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that over a third of children killed in car crashes were not properly restrained in a car seat, and nearly half of all child safety seats, when used, are installed incorrectly. These facts tell us that more attention needs to be paid to child car seat safety. For further information about child car safety laws in Kentucky, contact an attorney competent in car accident law with questions.
Kentucky Child Car Seat Laws
Kentucky law states that any driver of a motor vehicle transporting a child 40 inches in height or less must have the child properly secured in a child restraint system that meets federal safety standards. State mandates also dictate that any motor vehicle sold in Kentucky must have adequate seat belt anchors or attachments so car seats can be safely installed.
Children require different vehicle safety restraints depending on their age and size. Kentucky State Police offer the following “4 Steps for Kids” guidelines:
- Infants. Infants should always ride in rear-facing, infant-appropriate car seats in the back seat from birth to at least one year old and at least 20 pounds.
- Toddlers. Toddlers can graduate to forward-facing car seats placed in the back seat. This type of car seat should be used from age one to age four and 20 to 40 pounds.
- Young Children. Children between age four and age eight and above 40 pounds to at least 57 inches should use a booster seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
- Children Over Eight. Beginning at age eight or older, or taller than 57 inches, children can use car seat belts without an additional child restraint. All children 12 and under should ride in the back seat.
The Kentucky State Police (KSP) has permanent inspection stations where technicians are available to inspect child passenger safety seats and installation. Parents and caregivers can schedule a safety seat inspection at the nearest post. You can find your nearest post on the KSP post map on the agency’s webpage.
Kentucky Booster Seat Laws
According to Kentucky Booster Law KRS 189.125(3)(b), children meeting certain requirements must use a booster seat. A child booster seat refers to a child passenger restraint system designed to elevate a child. Boosters are intended to lift the child high enough off the vehicle seat so that they can properly sit in a federally-approved lap-and-shoulder seatbelt. Children in Kentucky must be in a booster when they are:
- Under the age of eight years
- Between 40 and 57 inches in height
- In a motorized vehicle (not including motorcycles, motorized bicycles, farm vehicles, or vehicles designed to carry over 15 passengers)
- Travelling any roadways, streets, or highways in the state of Kentucky
A child older than eight years old or over 57 inches tall is not required by law to ride in a booster seat in Kentucky. However, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet strongly advises that children under 57 inches be kept in a booster until they meet the height requirement, regardless of age or weight.
If an officer of the law observes that a child is not properly restrained in a moving car, the law requires that they issue citations with a $30 fine with no court costs. Those found in violation of the law have the option to purchase and use a booster seat instead of paying the fine.
Tips for Child Car Safety
As we have seen, child car accident and vehicle safety statistics indicate that we should be taking more care and precaution to stop preventable injuries and deaths. This includes knowing the state and federal car seat safety regulations and ensuring proper adherence to child car safety guidelines. The following tips can protect your child from injury when traveling in a motor vehicle:
- Car seats and booster seats should always be installed properly, and placed in the backseat for optimum child safety. Take time to completely understand and follow installation instructions.
- Find and use the right car seat for your child. The NHTSA website provides a car seat finder tool to help identify the best type and fit for your child.
- Register your car seat and sign up for news, alerts and updates, safety feature information, and recall notifications.
- Children under 13 should always ride in the backseat of the car, even when a booster seat is no longer required. This protects them in the event you are involved in the kind of collision in which air bags deploy.
- Make sure a child is fully secured before the vehicle begins to move, even when in a parking lot, where accidents can be just as dangerous as those which occur on the road.
- Always exercise extreme caution when driving with a child in the car, and memorize the ways to protect your child in case of an accident.
If you and your child were involved in a car crash, or if you simply want to learn more about safety guidelines in Kentucky, contact the Law Office of Todd W. Burris. We will be happy to schedule a free consultation to discuss your questions.