Securing children in the back seat can be stressful for new parents and changing laws could mean that what was safe for your first child isn’t necessarily so with your second. Maryland’s child seat and booster seat laws are relatively straightforward, but many moms and dads struggle to decide when it’s time to graduate from one safety seat to another. Our accident attorneys in Richmond understand the importance of child safety in motor vehicles as we’ve seen just how severe auto accident injuries can be when a car seat or seat belt is used incorrectly or forgotten.
What Are Maryland’s Booster Seat Laws?
A federally-approved safety seat is required for all children under the age of eight in the State of Maryland, and these include infant seats, forward-facing seats, convertible seats, and booster seats. If your child is taller than four feet nine inches, then they can sit in a regular seat and use an adult seat belt. The Maryland Law used to state that a child who weighs more than 65 pounds could use the regular seat, but the point of Maryland’s child safety seat laws is to ensure the seat belt is sitting in the correct position, so your child’s life is saved in the event of a car crash. That means height matters more than weight.
Booster seats are used for children who have outgrown car seats and are fitted on the seats to raise the child to a safe height, which means the shoulder and lap belts are positioned across their chest and hips. A child who is placed in a regular car seat who is not tall enough to do so could be in danger of internal injuries during an auto accident because the seatbelt is most likely positioned across the neck and belly.
Additionally, regular seats are designed for adults who weigh 165 pounds. While your child may wish to sit in the car like an adult, it’s essential you don’t rush your kids into the given seats or in the front seat of the vehicle. Seats with airbags such as those in the front seat are extremely dangerous for children under 13 who weigh less than 100 pounds and are shorter than four feet, nine inches.
Maryland’s 2013 Seat Belt Law states anyone who is not wearing a seat belt can receive an $83 ticket plus court costs. If any passengers under 16 aren’t buckled up, the driver gets a ticket for each offense.
Parents and anyone transporting young children should read the manuals provided by the manufacturer of the car seat or booster seat. Your child is ready to move up from a car seat to a booster seat when they’ve outgrown the weight and height limits provided by the manufacturers of the seat. Children under four or who weigh less than 40 pounds should remain in a car seat.
If you’re concerned that you’ve installed a car seat or booster seat incorrectly, local fire stations typically will double check the set up for you. Your child may also get a kick out of seeing the fire engines.
Contact Our Maryland Auto Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident whether or not a child was involved, please contact our injury attorneys in Richmond today at (301) 854-9000 for a FREE consultation. Portner & Shure serve clients in surrounding areas including Virginia and Washington DC.