Being in a car accident can be traumatic. If your child is also involved in that accident, the potential for serious injuries can be terrifying. Car seats and booster seats protect your children and reduce their risk of injury or death in an accident. Many states, including Georgia, have laws in place regarding car seats and their proper use.
Car Seat Safety Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 2,600 US children are involved in car crashes every day. That’s one child every 33 seconds. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of serious injuries and death for children ages 1 to 12 years old.
Of the children killed in car crashes in 2020, about 42% of them were either not restrained at all or improperly restrained in their car seats. About 60% of car seats are installed or adjusted incorrectly. (Source: NHTSA).
When car seats and booster seats are installed and used correctly, children are less likely to be hurt in a car accident. The risk of injury is reduced by 54-71% (Source: NHTSA and CDC).
The data is clear; children are better protected in properly installed car seats than those who are not. Given this information, Georgia has implemented several laws regarding the mandatory use of these safety devices.
Georgia’s Child Passenger Safety Laws
Georgia has laws in place to make sure that children are protected when they’re in the car. Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-76, “every driver who transports a child under eight years of age in a passenger automobile, van, or pickup truck… or a public transit vehicle… shall, while such motor vehicle is in motion and operated on a public road, street, or highway of this state, provide for the proper restraint of such child in a child passenger restraining system appropriate for the child’s height and weight.” In other words, if you have a child who is eight years old or younger in your vehicle, that child needs to be in a car seat or booster seat.
If you’re caught violating Georgia’s child passenger safety laws, you can face a fine of up to $50 and one point against your license – for each improperly restrained child in your vehicle. Subsequent violations can face $100 fines and two points per improperly restrained child.
Here are some additional rules in place regarding car seats and booster seats in Georgia:
- Infants to 12 months: rear-facing infant seat or car seat, regardless of weight
- Children 1-3 years old: rear-facing car seat up to 20 pounds, in a rear- or forward-facing car seat between 20 to 40 pounds
- Children 4-8 years old: in a rear- or forward-facing car seat if less than 40 pounds, in a forward-facing car seat or booster seat if more than 40 pounds and under 4’9” tall; the booster seat should be restrained by both a lap and shoulder belt
- Children 8-12 years old: booster seat until they have grown enough that a seat belt fits properly across their legs and shoulders
Car Seat Best Practices
As a parent or caretaker, there are a number of things you can do to protect your children while they’re in the car. These are not mandated by Georgia law, but are still a good idea:
- Make sure your child is always safely secured, even if it’s a short trip
- Keep your children in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, as this is the safest positioning for the car seat
- Never hold a child in your lap while the vehicle is in motion or put the car seat in the front of the car
- Do not use a car seat that has been in an accident; replace it immediately
- Children should not ride up front until they are 13 years or older
If you need help installing a car seat in your vehicle, many local police departments and fire stations offer free fittings.
If you, a loved one, or your child has been injured in a car accident, reach out to The Champion Firm at 404-596-8044. We can explain your legal rights and best options. Our team of knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorneys in Marietta, GA is always ready to help