When Is the Right Time to Stop Using a Car Seat or Booster Seat?

In the days before car seats, infants and small children would be held by other passengers or sit in their laps when the car was in motion. When it was deemed appropriate, slightly older children woul

In the days before car seats, infants and small children would be held by other passengers or sit in their laps when the car was in motion. When it was deemed appropriate, slightly older children would sit in seats like adults, being held down by standard seatbelts. These practices were extremely unsafe and if an accident occurred could result in a serious injury or death for the child. Thankfully with the creation and adoption of car seats and booster seats, young children of all ages can ride in the car safely. But some parents often struggle with when they should allow their children to stop sitting in a car seat. Luckily we have compiled some recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration along with some important questions you as a parent should ask before letting your child ride in a car without a car seat:

Recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that all children under the age of 8 or shorter than 4 feet and 9 inches should be restrained in a car safety seat while the car is in motion. The NHTSA also recommends that older children, typically between the ages of 4 and 8 should sit in some sort of booster seat. This will ensure the safety of the child while the car is in motion.

Many people believe that after a child turns four they no longer require a car seat or any type of booster seat. That is why statistics claim that less than 20% of children use booster seats while in the car, according to eHow.com. When you decide your child to ride in car seats, booster seat is obviously subject to judgment depending upon the height, weight and age of your child. But the basic guidelines provided by the NHTSA say children younger than 4 should ride in car seats and children between the ages of 4 and 8 should ride in booster seats.

Important Questions
If you are considering allowing your child to ride in your car without a car seat or booster there are a few questions you should ask yourself. Like, “Can the child sit comfortably?” or “Is the child properly restrained?” or “Is the seatbelt placed across the child in a way that will ensure their safety?”

By asking yourself these questions you can guarantee that your child will be safe without a car seat or booster seat. If the child can comfortably sit with their legs over the seat, the seatbelt isn’t loose over the child and the seatbelt is across the lap and shoulder – as opposed to around the neck – then the child may be able to ride in the car without a car seat. Though, the most important question you should ask yourself is, are you comfortable with having your child in the car without a car seat or booster seat? Once again this is up to your discretion as a parent and you should only do what makes you comfortable.

Follow the Law
Many states have differing laws that require the use of car seats or booster seats for children. These laws differ from state to state and can be based upon a child’s age, weight, height or a combination thereof.

Before making a decision to let your child ride in your car without a car seat or booster consult your local laws. You should also check the laws of other states that you may be driving through if you’re planning a road trip. Doing this will allow you to easily avoid an expensive ticket. You may feel that your child is ready to ride in your car without a car seat or booster seat, but the law may feel differently.

Ultimately whether or not you allow your child to ride in your car without a car seat or booster seat is up to your discretion. But you should take into account the advice from the NHTSA and what your local laws state. By doing so, you can ensure a safe ride for you and your children.

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