Booster Seat Laws - DDOT Highway Safety Office

Booster Seat Laws - DDOT Highway Safety Office
Identifying Strategies
To Improve the
Effectiveness of
Booster Seat
Laws
This publication is distributed by the U.S. Department of
Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in
the interest of information exchange. The opinions, findings and
conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and
not necessarily those of the Department of Transportation or the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The United States
Government assumes no liability for its content or use thereof. If trade
or manufacturers’ names or products are mentioned, it is because they
are considered essential to the object of the publication and should not
be construed as an endorsement. The United States Government does
not endorse products or manufacturers.
Technical Report Documentation Page
1. Report No.
2. Government Accession No.
3. Recipient's Catalog No.
DOT HS 810 969
1.
Title and Subtitle
Identifying Strategies to Improve the Effectiveness of Booster
Seat Laws
7. Author(s)
5. Report Date
May 2008
6. Performing Organization Code
8. Performing Organization Report No.
Lawrence E. Decina, Kathy H. Lococo, Warren Ashburn,‡ William B.
Hall,† and Janelle Rose*
9. Performing Organization Name and Address
TransAnalytics, LLC
1722 Sumneytown Pike, Box 328
Kulpsville, PA 19443
10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)
11. Contract or Grant No.
‡
Ashburn and Associates, 703 Augusta Drive, Bridgeville, PA 15017
University of North Carolina/Highway Safety Research Center, 730 Airport
Rd., Box 3430, Suite 300, Chapel Hill, NC 27599
* Program Professionals, Inc., 3109 Biddle Ave., Wyandotte, MI 48192
†
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address
13. Type of Report and Period Covered
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE.
Washington, DC 20590
Final Report
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes
COTR: John Siegler, Ph.D., Office of Behavioral Safety Research
16. Abstract
The objective of this project was to identify strategies to improve the effectiveness of booster seat laws. The
project explored the possible factors that relate to the use and nonuse of booster seats, and examined the attitudes
of law enforcement officers and parents/caregivers concerning booster seat laws. As of June 2007, 38 States and
the District of Columbia have included booster seat provisions in their child restraint laws. A recent NHTSAsponsored observational survey found 41% of children age 4 to 8 restrained in boosters. A literature review
uncovered the following reasons that parents/caregivers do not restrain their children in boosters:
misunderstanding of the law; underestimation of risk; lack of knowledge about the benefits of booster seats; and
permissive parenting style. An observational study conducted in this project found a 9.1-percentage-point
increase in the use of child safety seats and booster seats for children age 4 to 8 following enactment of an
enhanced child restraint law (booster seat law). Barriers to the use and enforcement of booster seat laws were
addressed in focus groups with parents/caregivers and law enforcement officers. Barriers included
parent/caregiver ignorance of child restraint laws and low risk perception; lack of knowledge about the safety
benefits of booster seats among the public, as well as among law enforcement officers and members of the
courts; low threat of being ticketed for booster seat violations; and lack of commitment to child passenger safety
(CPS) by law enforcement top management.
Educational, enforcement, and legislative strategies were developed to improve the effectiveness of booster seat
laws. The educational strategies are teaching parents/caregivers about best practices for restraint use and the risks
of inappropriate restraint use; and identification of booster seat resources for low-income groups. The
enforcement strategies include enlisting support for CPS activities from chiefs of police; training law
enforcement officers and judges about CPS best practices and their State laws; high-visibility enforcement of
child restraint laws; recording appropriate child restraint law violation data on citations; including law
enforcement officers in publicity promoting booster seat laws and best practices; and use of fear appeals in CPS
messages to increase parent/caregiver risk perception. Legislative strategies are enactment of booster seat laws in
all States; strengthening of booster seat laws to meet best practices; and enactment of primary booster seat laws
as well as primary seat belt laws.
18. Distribution Statement
17. Key Words
This report is free of charge from the NHTSA Web site at
Booster seat use, Booster seat laws,
www.nhtsa.dot.gov
Enforcement, Law enforcement strategies,
Observation Studies
19. Security Classif. (of this report)
21. No. of Pages
22. Price
20. Security Classif. (of this page)
Unclassified
125
Unclassified
Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72)
Reproduction of completed page authorized
i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors wish to thank many individuals and their organizations for their participation
at the brainstorming session. They are in alphabetical order: Emilie Crown (Montgomery
County Fire Rescue, MD), Tracy Hewitt (Center for Injury Research and Prevention, Children’s
Hospital of Philadelphia, PA), Officer Timothy Kehoe (Chesterfield Township Police
Department, VA), Officer Ken Lynch (Orland Park Township Police Department, IL), Chief Leo
McCarthy (Moon Township Police Department, PA), Officer Joseph Riley (Elks Grove Police
Department, CA.), Tanya Chin Ross (Safe Kids Worldwide, Washington, DC), Tracy Whitman
(Maryland Kids in Safety Seats, MD), and Dr. Kelli England Will (Eastern Virginia Medical
School, Norfolk, VA).
The authors are extremely grateful to the Federal and State Government individuals who
helped us recruit law enforcement officers for the focus groups. They are: Kristen Allen and
Thelma Kuska (NHTSA regional program managers); Marcia Franchok-Hill (Virginia
Department of Health, Statewide Safety Seat program manager); Edward Gebing (California
Office of Traffic Safety); and Edward Boothman and Robert Zwier (Pennsylvania Statewide Seat
Belt Law Enforcement liaison coordinators).
In addition, the authors wish to thank the many law enforcement officers and
parents/caregivers who participated in the focus group sessions in Richmond, VA, Detroit, MI,
Chicago, IL, and Sacramento, CA.
Thanks are also in order to the staff of Program Professionals, Inc., (Wyandotte, MI) who
conducted the booster seat observation studies in Wisconsin and Michigan. They are Jessica
Butterfield, Karen Green, Anne Jerzewski, and Jami Revesz. A final thanks to Bridget Clementi
of the Safe Kids Wisconsin coalition at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee for her help in
obtaining permission to collect observational data at sites.
ii
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ...........................................................................................................1
1.0 INTRODUCTION...................................................................................................................4
1.1 Background ...................................................................................................................4
1.2 Project Objectives and Scope of Work .........................................................................5
2.0 METHODOLOGY .................................................................................................................7
2.1 Inventory of State Restraint Laws.................................................................................7
2.2 Literature Review..........................................................................................................7
2.3 Observational Study of the Impact of a Booster Seat Law...........................................8
2.4 Focus Group Sessions ...................................................................................................9
2.5 Brainstorming Session ................................................................................................11
2.6 Development of Strategies..........................................................................................12
3.0 RESULTS AND ANALYSIS ...............................................................................................13
3.1 Inventory of State Child Restraint Laws.....................................................................13
3.2 Literature Review........................................................................................................20
3.3 Observational Study of the Impact of a Booster Seat Law..........................................26
3.4 Focus Group Sessions .................................................................................................28
3.5 Brainstorming Session ................................................................................................46
4.0 STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF BOOSTER SEAT
LAWS ....................................................................................................................................52
REFERENCES.............................................................................................................................57
iii
TABLE OF CONTENTS (Cont’d)
Page
APPENDIX A: Booster Seat Definitions and Types.....................................................................60
APPENDIX B: Inventory of State Child Restraint Laws and Seat Belt Laws
(as of June 2007)..................................................................................................61
APPENDIX C: Booster Seat Requirements in Effect by State, by Upper Age Limit, Between
2002 and 2007. .................................................................................................114
APPENDIX D: Message Concepts for Convincing Parents/Caregivers to Use Booster Seats
Consistently and Properly .................................................................................116
APPENDIX E: Child Passenger Safety Law: A Guide for Law Enforcement...........................118
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1.
Basic Provisions of State Child Restraint and Seat Belt Laws ..............................16
Table 2.
Restraint Use for Booster-Seat-Age Children........................................................26
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1.
Child Restraint Laws in Wisconsin and Michigan. .................................................9
Figure 2.
Children Age 4 to 8 Appropriately Restrained in Child Safety Seats or
Booster Seats..........................................................................................................27
iv
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Since 1975, motor vehicle crashes have been the leading cause of death for children in
the United States. The most effective strategy for preventing injury and death to children
involved in crashes is using age- and size-appropriate restraints. TransAnalytics, LLC, completed
a study that examined the factors that relate to the use and nonuse of booster seats, and identified
strategies to improve the effectiveness of enhanced child restraint laws that cover booster-seatage children (booster seat laws). Project activities included:
• an inventory of changes in State child occupant-protection laws since 2002;
• a literature review on the use and nonuse of booster seats;
• an observational survey of booster seat use before and after enactment of a booster seat law
in Wisconsin;
• focus groups with parents or caregivers to assess attitudes, knowledge, understanding, and
use of booster seat laws;
• focus groups with law enforcement officers to assess their attitudes, knowledge, and
enforcement of booster seat laws; and
• a brainstorming session with experts and law enforcement officers discussing the challenges
of booster seat enforcement.
Review of Changes in Booster Seat Laws
While the number of States and Territories that have enacted booster seat provisions has
increased from 11 to 39 since 2000, a wide variation in age, height, and weight requirements still
exists. Several States have changed their age and weight requirements to meet NHTSA’s best
practices for booster-seat-age children. The number of jurisdictions with laws that cover children
4 to 8 years old (currently 18, with 2 of these covering children up to age 9) has more than
quadrupled since 2002. Within the same time period, the number of jurisdictions with laws that
cover children who weigh up to 80 pounds has increased to 10 states. Unfortunately, more than
half of the States with booster seat law provisions are still operating below best practices for age
and weight. In 2002, only 3 States had height provisions in their booster seat laws. As of mid2007, 10 States had height requirements that represent best practice (up to 57 inches). Four other
States have height requirements that fall short of best practice recommendations.
Literature Review
A review of recent research noted differences in knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions
between parents and caregivers who use booster seats and those who do not. The following
factors were associated with nonuse of booster seats: lack of understanding of the laws; low risk
perception; permissive parenting; lack of understanding of the safety benefits of booster seats;
and child discomfort or resistance.
Observational studies conducted during the past 5 years have reported varying
percentages of 4- to 8-year-old children restrained in booster seats; however, the most recent
NHTSA observational study (Glassbrenner & Ye, 2007) found 41% restrained in booster seats,
17% in child safety seats, and 42% either inadequately protected in seat belts (33%) or
completely unrestrained (9%).
1
Effects of Upgrading Booster Seat Laws
Observations of booster seat use before and after Wisconsin passed its booster seat law
showed a significant increase in the percentage of appropriately retrained children age 4 to 8
following enactment of a booster seat law. Child safety seat and booster seat use in this age
group increased by 9.1 percentage points in Wisconsin, from 48.6% in the pre-law period to
57.7% in the post-law period. Observations of booster seat use in a comparison State, Michigan,
showed an increase of 5.9 percentage points during the same time periods; however the increase
was not statistically significant.
Law Enforcement Attitudes
Law enforcement officers identified a number of barriers to enforcing booster seat laws.
These include: lack of commitment by top management (e.g., police chiefs) to enforce these
laws; a shortage of law enforcement officers knowledgeable on the subject of child safety seats
and booster seats; lack of resources to enforce booster seat laws; booster seat laws that are
secondary violations; and lenient judges who dismiss booster seat citations. Law enforcement
officers who identified reasons for parent and caregiver nonuse of booster seats cited the public's
ignorance of the child restraint laws, and the public's failure to recognize the degree of risk to
unrestrained or inappropriately restrained children.
Parent and Caregiver Attitudes
The parents and caregivers identified several barriers to booster seat use attributed to
ignorance, parenting styles, and lack of enforcement. Specifically, many parents and caregivers
lack an understanding of (a) child occupant protection laws, (b) the risks involved to their
children when they are not appropriately restrained and (c) the safety benefits offered by booster
seats. In addition, many parents fail to enforce discipline when children resist using the seats.
Because of the low perceived threat of getting a ticket for booster seat violations, parents have
not been compelled to change their habits.
Strategies
The following list of strategies to improve the effectiveness of booster seat laws was
developed from the information generated from the previous task activities. Although many of
these strategies are common practice, they continue to be valid approaches to increase booster
seat use.
Education
It is important to educate those parents and caregivers who do not use, or inconsistently
use, booster seats. The assumption is that once parents and caregivers know how, when, and
why they should use booster seats, they will properly secure their booster-age children. Each
year, new children reach booster seat age, so the need to educate parents and caregivers remains
constant. Efforts to educate parents and caregivers need to be periodically refreshed to address
changing sensibilities, changes in law, and updated research about child passenger safety. Topics
that should be taught include:
• The best practices for properly securing booster-seat-age and sized children;
• The risks caused by inappropriate restraint use; and
• Where to find booster seat resources in low-income communities.
2
Enforcement
Effective enforcement of booster seat laws requires coordination between several sectors
of the enforcement community. The following strategies are interdependent, and address five key
points:
• Motivate law enforcement leadership to enforce occupant restraint laws;
• Train law enforcement officers about child passenger safety issues;
• Strictly enforce child passenger safety laws;
• Train judges about child passenger safety issues to uphold citations; and
• Collect appropriate enforcement data to analyze and refine booster seat law enforcement
efforts.
Legislation
A final strategy is to promote stronger booster seat laws (e.g., without unnecessary
exemptions in conformity with best practice recommendations) and primary enforcement of seat
belt laws. This study showed that passage of a booster seat law increases child safety seat and
booster seat use. To strengthen these laws, there is a need to increase the age and height limits in
the booster seat provisions of the child restraint law in many States (e.g., at least to 8 years old
and 4‘9” tall). The study found that there are some misperceptions by parents and caregivers that
the State law represents the best practice; therefore, if they follow the law, their children are
safely secured. However, the booster seat laws do not represent best practice in all States.
3
1.0 INTRODUCTION
1.1
BACKGROUND
Since 1975, motor vehicle crashes have been the leading cause of death for children in
the United States (NHTSA, 2002, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006). Use of an
age- and size-appropriate restraint is the most effective strategy for preventing injury and death
to children involved in crashes. In 2005, of the 304 fatalities among children 4 to 8 years old for
which restraint use was known, 136 (45%) were unrestrained (NHTSA, 2006).1 The percentage
of unrestrained children in this age group who die in single-vehicle crashes involving passenger
cars is more than twice that of children who are restrained (NHTSA, 2005). While research
shows that the use of an adult seat belt reduces the risk of fatalities by 48% when compared to no
restraint use at all, a belt-positioning booster seat reduces the risk by 54% (NHTSA, 2002).
Other research has shown a three-fold increase risk of significant injury to children who were in
adult seat belts when compared to children in belt-positioning boosters (Durbin, Elliot, &
Winston, 2003). Appendix A illustrates and describes the types of booster seats.
Despite the evidence for the efficacy of child restraint systems, children continue to ride
unrestrained or improperly restrained in motor vehicles. Recent observational studies on children
in the booster-seat-age group show that 42% are still either unrestrained or in an adult seat belt
(Glassbrenner & Ye, 2007). Specifically, Glassbrenner and Ye (2007) found 41% restrained in
booster seats, 17% in child safety seats, 33% inadequately protected in seat belts alone, and 9%
completely unrestrained.
There are many reasons why parents/caregivers do not restrain their child passengers
according to recommended best practices. These include misperception of risk,
misunderstanding of child restraint laws and best practice, and permissiveness in allowing
children to graduate to a seat belt before the seat belt will fit them correctly (Winston, Moll,
Durbin, & Kassam-Adams, 2001).
In 2002, recognizing the safety benefits of booster seats for children age 4 to 8, the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revised its best practice recommendation for
booster seat use to cover all children who have outgrown child safety seats until they are at least
8 years old, unless they are 4’ 9” tall. NHTSA encourages States to adopt laws that provide
appropriate restraint use for all children, including enhanced child restraint laws that cover
booster-seat-age children (booster seat laws). Great progress has been made over the past 5
years; the number of States that have passed booster seat revisions to the child restraint laws has
grown from 11 to 38 States. Unfortunately, there are wide variations in these laws, especially
relating to age limits (e.g., up to 6, 7, or 8 years old), weight limits (e.g., up to 40, 60, or 80
pounds), penalties (e.g., driver points), fines, and enforcement (e.g., secondary versus primary)
(NHTSA, 2007, IIHS, 2007). In addition, there are many States that have no type of provisions
for booster-seat-age children.
1
The term “4 to 8 years old” refers to children who are 4, 5, 6, and 7 years old.
(http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/rulings/TREAD/MileStones/BoosterSeat.htm)
4
The public supports strong child restraint laws (Boyle & VanDerwolf, 2005); and recent
studies have shown booster seat use is higher in States that have booster seat laws (Gunn,
Phillippi, & Cooper, 2007; Winston, Kallan, Elliott, Xie, & Durbin, 2007). However, in past
focus group studies, law enforcement officers have described the difficulties they have
encountered in enforcing booster seat laws. To increase public compliance with booster seat
laws, they gave the following recommendations: stronger commitment by the department to
enforce booster laws; simpler language in the booster seat law; application of points to driver
license and higher fines; and combining booster seat ticketing efforts with current seat belt
enforcement programs, such as Click It or Ticket (Raymond, Seifert, Golembiewski, &
Knoblauch, 2004).
1.2
PROJECT OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE OF WORK
The goals of this project are to build upon the findings of recent NHTSA research and
identify strategies to improve the effectiveness of booster seat laws. Strategies that have been
used to increase booster seat use include: (a) enhancing public education campaigns about
booster seat laws and the efficacy of booster seat use; (b) Improving enforcement procedures
(e.g., more training for officers); (c) promoting the educational role of officers (e.g., presenting
programs to children in kindergarten through 2nd grade); and (d) using creative enforcement
strategies (e.g., coupling seat belt with booster seat violations). To identify new strategies, more
information about what parents/caregivers and law enforcement officers know about their State
booster seat laws is needed. Specifically, how do booster seat laws affect the behavior of
parents/caregivers and law enforcement? Do parents/caregivers understand differences between
best practice and the requirements of their State’s booster seat law? How does the enforcement
of booster laws differ in States with a primary law versus those with a secondary law? Finally,
what consequences do law enforcement officers impose on booster seat law violators (e.g.,
warnings instead of citations)?
The following tasks, which build upon the findings of recent NHTSA research, provide
the background information needed to develop strategies to enhance the effectiveness of booster
seat laws:
1.
An inventory of changes in State occupant protection laws since 2002;
2.
A review of the research literature to update knowledge about the factors that relate to
use and nonuse of booster seats and strategies that have been successful in increasing
booster seat use;
3.
Collection of observational booster seat use data in a State before and after a booster seat
law was enacted (Wisconsin) and a comparison State without a booster seat law (Michigan);
4a.
Focus groups with parents/caregivers in four cities to assess their attitudes and knowledge
about booster seat laws and enforcement of these laws (Richmond, VA, Pittsburgh, PA,
Chicago, IL, and Sacramento, CA), to use as discussion topics for the brainstorming session;
5
4b.
Focus groups with law enforcement officers in the same four cities to assess their
attitudes and knowledge about booster seat laws and enforcement of these laws, to use as
discussion topics for the brainstorming session;
5.
A brainstorming session (Washington, DC) with CPS experts and law enforcement agents
to identify potential strategies to enhance the effectiveness of booster seat laws; and
6.
Distillation of the findings from Tasks 1 to 5 to develop strategies to enhance the
effectiveness of booster seat laws.
The next section of this report provides more detail about the methodology for
conducting each of these project tasks.
6
2.0 METHODOLOGY
This section of the report provides a description of each task activity; identifies the
purpose of the activity; and explains how the results of each task were used to develop the
methods employed in the subsequent tasks.
2.1
INVENTORY OF STATE CHILD RESTRAINT LAWS
The purpose of this task activity was to inventory changes to or additions of booster seat
laws in States during the past five years. Methods used to gather this information involved
Internet searches for current lists of State child restraint and seat belt laws prepared by Federal
and State highway safety agencies such as NHTSA and organizations such as the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety. The following
information was selected from the State child restraint and seat belt lists:
•
•
•
•
•
•
Effective date of the law;
Coverage of the law (e.g., maximum age and or weight requirements for child restraints;
whether there is a booster provision; age at which a seat belt is allowed; whether seat
belts are required in rear seats);
Maximum fines;
Driver record points and insurance points assessed;
Major exemptions to the child passenger laws; and
Laws preventing the transport of children in cargo areas of pickup trucks.
The information was then organized by State into a summary sheet which describes the
State’s child restraint and seat belt laws and other provisions related to occupant restraint and
occupant protection. Draft versions were then submitted to State occupant protection officials
for verification of accuracy of the data. These officials were identified through the list of State
child passenger safety contacts on NHTSA’s website. A summary of the changes in State laws
over the past five-year period is provided in section 3 of this report.
2.2
LITERATURE REVIEW
A comprehensive review of the research literature included the following topics. The
demographic characteristics of booster seat users and nonusers; parental/caregiver reasons for
inconsistent booster seat use; barriers encountered by law enforcement officers in enforcing
booster seat laws; interventions that were implemented to increase booster seat use; effective
strategies used to enforce booster seat laws; and, the effectiveness of booster seat laws in
increasing booster seat use. For the computerized searches, the following search terms were
used: child passenger safety (CPS); child restraints; booster seat use; vehicle design; crash and
injury data; intervention programs; enforcement; child restraint laws; booster seat laws;
parent/caregiver; risk perception; awareness; attitude; behavioral issues; and public information
and education. The following is a list of sources used for this literature review.
7
(1)
A computerized search of relevant subject databases included: (a) the Transportation
Research Information Services, which covers all of the national transportation science
and highway safety research and information produced by the U.S. Department of
Transportation and its agencies; (b) SCOPUS, produced by the Elsevier Publishing
Company, which covers a large selection of medical and health science journals; and (c)
PychInfo and Sociological Abstracts, which cover a large selection of behavioral
sciences, social psychology, and psychological journals.
(2)
A computerized search by Northwestern University Transportation Library staff using its
electronic card catalog and TRANSPORT (the premier international transportation
science subject database).
(3)
Communications with peer group sources and professional associations (e.g.,
Transportation Research Board’s Occupant Protection Committee – ANB45) to identify
the most current research documents, unpublished interim and draft final reports, and
research-in-progress reports.
Study reports relevant to the aforementioned topics of investigation in this project were
acquired through vendors, full-text electronic sources, peers, and in-house collections. Over 75
relevant research studies in journal articles, government publications, dissertations, information
sheets, and gray papers were read; and categorized by type of study (i.e., child restraint use and
misuse observations, crash and injury data, telephone interview, focus group, evaluation of
intervention, or anecdotal). The task report was then prepared summarizing the status of State
child restraint laws; booster seat use data (i.e., observational surveys, crash, and telephone);
parent/caregiver reasons for inconsistent booster seat use; law enforcements’ views about the
booster seat laws; and potential strategies recommended from the studies.
2.3
OBSERVATIONAL STUDY OF THE IMPACT OF A BOOSTER SEAT LAW
The task objective was to determine whether the enactment of a booster seat law would
increase booster seat use. This was accomplished by collecting booster seat use data in a State
before and after booster seat legislation was enacted. Booster seat use data were also collected
during the same time periods in a comparison State without a booster seat law. Wisconsin was
selected as the treatment State; its booster law was enacted June 1, 2006. Michigan was selected
as the comparison State, because no booster seat law was enacted in 2006, and because of its
similar socio-demographic characteristics and its proximity to Wisconsin. Figure 1 summarizes
Wisconsin’s and Michigan’s child passenger safety laws.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation and CPS advocacy groups publicized
the new law. Wisconsin DOT developed a one-page information sheet and card that provided
details of the new law for law enforcement personnel and the public. The Wisconsin Bureau
of Transportation Safety also published an article on the new law in its May newsletter. The
American Automobile Association of Wisconsin and Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW) held a
news conference in Madison on June 1, 2006, in conjunction with SKW car seat checks around
the State.
8
Wisconsin
Prior to June 1, 2006, Wisconsin law required all children under age 4 to be in a child restraint,
and children between age 4 and 8 to be in a child restraint or a seat belt. As of June 1, 2006,
children who are between 4 and 8 or who weigh between 40 and 79 pounds, and are no taller
than 4 feet 9 inches, are to be restrained in a booster seat. The law does not require the booster
seat to be placed in a back seat. Written warnings were issued for first-time violations. Citations
were issued starting January 1, 2007. The child restraint law is a primary enforcement law. The
seat belt law is a secondary enforcement law.
Michigan
All children under the age of 4 must be in a child restraint system, and children between the age
of 4 and 16 must wear a seat belt. All front-seat occupants must wear seat belts.
Both CPS and seat belt laws are primary enforcement laws.
Figure 1. Child Restraint Laws in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Booster seat observation sites were located in urban and suburban areas, and were
selected based on high numbers of target vehicles entering the site, safety, location, and
permission to collect data at the site. The most common sites were shopping centers with retail
stores that attract the target vehicle group (e.g., Wal-Mart, Toys R Us); elementary schools and
child care centers; health care centers; and recreational sites. This study used a convenience
sample.
Data collectors stationed in parking lots targeted drivers who were parking their cars and
transporting at least one child passenger who appeared to be 4- to 8-years old. For drivers who
agreed to participate in the study, data collectors noted the vehicle type and number of
passengers, and recorded the seating positions, race, gender, and restraint use of all occupants in
the vehicle.
Baseline data (pre-intervention) were collected in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area
between May 9 and 11, 2006, and in the Detroit, Michigan, area between May 18 and 24, 2006.
Post-intervention data were collected in Wisconsin from September 6 to 23, 2006, and in
Michigan from September 11 to October 3, 2006.
2.4
FOCUS GROUP SESSIONS
Separate focus groups with parents/caregivers of booster-seat-age children and law
enforcement officers were held to gain a better understanding of the reasons parents/caregivers
do not consistently use booster seats and the reasons that law enforcement officers may not
enforce booster seat laws. The information gathered in the focus groups received consideration
9
in the formulation of potential strategies by the brainstorming session panelists in the following
task activity.
Focus groups with parents/caregivers provided an effective qualitative way to discern
their feelings about booster seat use and booster seat law enforcement. In small groups, they felt
comfortable to share their opinions and knowledge about child passenger safety, booster seats,
child restraint laws, and enforcement of these laws. They were asked their opinions on the type
of strategies that would make booster seat laws more effective in increasing booster seat use in
the Nation.
Focus groups with law enforcement officers provided an effective qualitative opportunity
to learn about officers’ feelings on the same topics. Discussions provided insight into what the
officers knew about booster seats, booster laws, and the issues surrounding enforcement of
booster seat laws. The small groups provided a comfortable setting for the officers to speak
honestly about the barriers to enforcing child restraint laws and to candidly discuss strategies that
would be effective in promoting booster seat laws.
During October and November 2006, focus groups were held in four cities representing
geographically diverse areas of the country. The States chosen for the focus groups all had
booster seat laws; however, they varied in the maximum age covered and whether enforcement
was primary or secondary. The booster seat law was primary in California, Illinois, and
Virginia, but secondary in Pennsylvania at the time the focus groups were conducted. The law
covered children up to age 6 in California and Virginia, and up to age 8 in Illinois and
Pennsylvania. The cities were Richmond, VA (south), Pittsburgh, PA (north), Chicago, IL
(midwest), and Sacramento, CA (west). Focus group companies managed the recruitment of the
parent/caregiver groups, preparation of the rooms, equipment, refreshments, incentives, and
reminder phone calls to participants. The focus group companies were given a list of
requirements for recruiting parents/caregivers, including: they transport booster-seat-age
children; they hold a valid driver's license; and they use booster seats either full time or
sometimes.
Law enforcement officers were recruited through requests made to NHTSA Regional
Administrators, State CPS coordinators, and NHTSA law enforcement liaisons. A mix of State
and local law enforcement officers (both CPS-certified and non-CPS-certified) serving small,
medium, and large communities was desired. An e-mail sent to the perspective participants
explained the project objectives and requested their participation in the focus group sessions.
The focus group moderator prepared two topic guides to lead the sessions. The
parental/caregiver topic guide was prepared after reviewing the literature review task report and
holding a briefing with the principal investigator (PI) to discuss past research findings
documenting reasons for inconsistent booster seat use (misperception of safety, premature
graduation to seat belts, lack of knowledge about law, permissive behavior with complaining
children, etc.). The law enforcement topic guide was prepared in the same manner, but more
law-and-enforcement-based topics were discussed in the briefing with the moderator. Draft topic
guides were developed; reviewed by the PI and NHTSA and then approved for use. A message
concept exercises for focus group participants was also developed by the moderator and PI,
10
based on what was learned in the literature review about the reasons for nonuse of booster seats,
and the types of educational appeals that have been successful in influencing parent/caregiver
behavior.
Three focus groups were conducted in each of the four cities; one consisting of law
enforcement officers, one consisting of female parents/caregivers, and one consisting of male
parents/caregivers. Twelve participants were included in each group. Focus group sessions
lasted 90 minutes to 2 hours each, and were audio-recorded by facility staff.
2.5
BRAINSTORMING SESSION
A brainstorming session was held with CPS informants, NHTSA communications and
booster program staff, CPS-certified law enforcement officers, and researchers to discuss
implications of the findings from previous task activities and to formulate specific strategies for
enhancing the effectiveness of booster seat laws (i.e., increase booster seat use among the
public). Their expertise was used to gain a better understanding of the difficulties in
implementing booster seat interventions, reasons for intervention success and failure, and the
challenges of enforcing various kinds of child restraint laws.
Panelists were selected on the basis of their experience with developing, administering,
and promoting CPS programs. Law enforcement officers were selected based on their CPS
experience (e.g., CPS-certified), leadership (e.g., experience conducting child restraint law
enforcement programs), and through recognition by NHTSA Regional Administrators as active
CPS promoters. Panelists in attendance were:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Emilie Crown (Montgomery County Fire Rescue, MD)
Tracy Hewitt (Center for Injury Research and Prevention, Children’s Hospital of
Philadelphia, PA)
Officer Timothy Kehoe (Chesterfield Township Police Department, VA)
Officer Ken Lynch (Orland Park Township Police Department, IL)
Chief Leo McCarthy (Moon Township Police Department, PA)
Officer Joseph Riley (Elks Grove Police Department, CA)
Tanya Chin Ross (Safe Kids Worldwide, Washington, DC)
Tracy Whitman (Maryland Kids in Safety Seats, MD)
Kelli England Will, Ph.D. (Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA)
The NHTSA project manager, staff from several divisions of NHTSA (Office of
Behavioral Safety Research, Occupant Protection Division, and the Office of Communications
and Consumer Information), and TransAnalytics project staff also attended.
The brainstorming session moderator and PI developed a session agenda based on the
task objectives. The agenda was reviewed by NHTSA. The session started with an overview of
the preceding task activities and NHTSA’s current efforts on the topic (e.g., roll-call video to
educate law enforcement on booster seat issues). A discussion of barriers to enforcement
11
activities and parent/caregiver misperceptions of risk followed. The afternoon session focused
on developing strategies to enhance the effectiveness of booster seat laws.
The brainstorming session agenda included:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Introductions and opening remarks;
Purpose of project and brainstorming session;
Current NHTSA booster seat programs and activities;
Moderator’s rules and goals of session;
Summary of qualitative research;
Key barriers to enforcing booster seat laws;
“Immunity fallacy” report and video;
Identification of realistic law enforcement approaches;
Identification of best messages to give to enforcement agencies;
Identification of best messages for law enforcement to give to the public;
Identification of best strategies for enforcement approaches;
Identification of best strategies for media approaches; and
Recommendations for final report.
2.6
DEVELOPMENT OF STRATEGIES
Strategies were developed through consideration of the outcomes of each project task.
Specifically, the most promising ideas and recommendations culled from the literature review
were selected for discussion in the focus groups with parents/caregivers and law enforcement
officers. Focus group participants also provided their perspectives on nonuse of booster seats,
and strategies that may be effective in increasing booster seat use. The highest ranked strategies
and messages voted upon by the focus group participants were then discussed during the
brainstorming sessions. Brainstorming session participants also provided informed opinions
about the most effective strategies and messages for increasing the effectiveness of booster
seat laws.
Strategies were formulated in three areas to address: (1) barriers to booster seat use
caused by parent/caregiver knowledge deficits (educational strategies); (2) barriers encountered
by law enforcement officers in enforcing booster seat laws (enforcement strategies); and (3)
barriers to booster seat use caused by weak or non-existent laws covering children age 4 to 8
(legislative strategies).
12
3.0 RESULTS AND ANALYSIS
Booster seat laws have been enacted in 76% of the States. This study provided evidence
that the enactment of booster seat laws works to some degree. However, the study also found
that booster seat use is still relatively low in the Nation. What are the reasons for this behavior?
Parents/caregivers mentioned a multitude of reasons for inconsistent booster seat use including:
lack of knowledge of the safety benefits of booster seats, misperceptions of risk from
inappropriate restraint use, confusion about the booster seat law, and low threat of ticketing for
booster seat violations. Law enforcement officers cited several explanations for low
enforcement of booster seat laws. CPS experts and law enforcement leaders (in the CPS field)
expressed strong opinions for potential strategies to improve booster seat use and to make
booster seat laws more effective. This section provides the results of each task activity and
culminates with a list of potential strategies to enhance the effectiveness of booster seat laws.
3.1
INVENTORY OF STATE CHILD RESTRAINT LAWS
The objective of the first task activity in this project was to inventory changes in State
child restraint laws since 2002. The first child restraint law in the United States was passed in
Tennessee in 1978 (Agran, Anderson, & Winn, 2004). In 2000, the first enhanced child restraint
law (known as a booster seat law) was passed in the State of Washington (effective July 1, 2002)
to cover provisions for booster-seat-age children (Winston et al., 2007).
All 50 States and the District of Columbia have child restraint laws and 49 States have
seat belt laws. State laws vary in their definitions of which children must be restrained in which
restraint type, and in which vehicle positions they must be restrained. Laws in some States allow
children riding in the rear seat to be unrestrained. In some States, children as young as 5 may be
restrained using the adult seat belt. These two practices increase the risk for serious injury or
death. At the other end of the continuum are laws that require children up to age 9 or 80 pounds
or 57 inches tall to be restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat. Approximately threefourths of the States have booster seat provisions for children who have outgrown their child
safety seats, but there are exemptions and limited coverage to many of these laws. A complete
description of each State’s occupant protection laws is provided in Appendix B. Table 1
summarizes the status of occupant restraint laws in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. It
includes the effective date of the original booster seat law within each State.
By July 1, 2002, 11 States had enacted some provisions in their child restraint laws
mandating booster seats for children older than 4 years of age. The provisions for booster
seat coverage by age varied among those States. There were 8 States (AR, CA, MD, NE, OR,
SC, VA, and WA) with maximum age up to 6; 2 States (DE and RI) with maximum age up to 7;
and 1 State (NJ) with maximum age up to 8. In addition, 5 States by July 1, 2002 had a
maximum weight requirement as well. Four States (AR, CA, DE, and RI) had a 60-pound
maximum requirement; and 1 State (SC) had an 80-pound maximum requirement (Safe Kids
Worldwide, 2007).
13
By August 1, 2005, 21 more States (totaling 32 States and the District of Columbia) had
enacted provisions in their child restraint laws mandating booster seats for children older than 4
years of age. Sixteen States had a maximum age up to 6 (AR, CA, CO, GA, IA, LA, MD, MT,
NE, NH, NV, OK, OR, SC, VA, and WA). Six States had a maximum age up to 7 (DE, ID, NM,
NY, ND and RI). Eight States and the District of Columbia had a maximum age up to 8 (DC, IL,
IN, ME, NJ, NC, PA, WV, and VT), and Tennessee and Wyoming had a maximum age up to 9.
As of August 1, 2005, there were 9 States with weight provisions. Five States (AR, CA, DE,
NM, and RI) had a 60-pound maximum requirement; and four States (ME, NC, RI, and SC) had
an 80-pound maximum requirement. Tennessee included a height requirement of 57 inches, and
West Virginia included a 56-inch height requirement. Two of these States (NC and RI) had an
80-pound maximum requirement, and New Mexico included a 60-pound maximum weight
requirement (NHTSA, 2005; Safe Kids Worldwide, 2007).
As of July 1, 2007, a total of 38 States and the District of Columbia had enacted
provisions in their child restraint laws mandating booster seat or appropriate restraint use for
older child passengers. This includes 5 States added during the prior 2-year period (AL, HI, KS,
MO, and WI). Of the 5 new States with booster seat laws, 1 State has a maximum age up to 6
(AL); and 4 States have a maximum age of 8 (HI, KS, MO, and WI). Washington State, Oregon,
and Virginia increased their age requirement from age 6 to age 8 during the summer of 2007.
The current age requirements within these 39 jurisdictions are shown below:
•
•
•
•
(Up to Age 6)– AL, AR, CA, CO, GA, IA, LA, MD, MT, NE, NV, NH, OK, and SC.
(Up to Age 7) – CT, DE, ID, ND, NM, NY, and RI.
(Up to Age 8) – District of Columbia and the States of HI, IL, IN, KS, ME, MO, NJ,
NC, OR, PA, VT, VA, WA, WV, and WI.
(Up to Age 9) – TN and WY.
Eight States that have a 60-pound maximum weight requirement (AR, CA, CT, DE, LA,
MT, NV, and NM) and 10 States have an 80-pound maximum weight requirement (KS, ME,
MO, NJ, NC, ND, RI, SC, WI, and WY).
Fourteen States have enacted booster seat provisions by including a maximum height
requirement in their child restraint laws. These height requirements range from less than 54 to
less than 57 inches, as indicated below:
•
•
•
•
< 54 inches: RI.
< 55 inches: CO and NH.
< 56 inches: ND.
< 57 inches: GA, HI, KS, MO, OR, PA, TN, WA, WV, and WI.
Fourteen States will allow the use of a lap-only belt for the booster-age child, if the
vehicle does not have a lap and shoulder seat belt available for using a belt positioning booster
(BPB) seat. They are: CA, CO, GA, HI, IL, IN, LA, MO, NY, NC, ND, OK, OR, and WA.
While the number of jurisdictions that have enacted booster seat provisions has increased
from 11 to 39 within the past 5 years, a wide variation in the age and weight requirements still
14
exists. Improvements have been seen in several States with age and weight requirements
meeting best practices for booster-seat-age children. The number of jurisdictions with laws that
cover children up to age 8 (currently 18 with 2 of these covering children up to age 9) has more
than quadrupled since 2002. Within the same time period, the number of jurisdictions with laws
that cover children who weigh up to 80 pounds (currently 10 States) has increased tenfold.
Unfortunately, more than one-half of the States with booster seat law provisions are still
operating below best practices for age. With regard to improvements in the height provisions of
booster seat laws, only 3 States had such a provision in 2002. As of mid-2007, 10 States have
height requirements that represent best practice (up to 57 inches). Four other States have height
requirements that fall short of best practice recommendations.
Appendix C illustrates the change in booster seat requirements by State, by upper age
limit, between 2002 and 2007.
15
16
Yes
7/1/05
Yes
7/1/04
Indiana
< Age 6
< Age 8
< Age 8
< Age 7
< Age 6 and < 57"
< Age 6 and < 57"
< Age 4
< Age 8
< Age 7 and < 60 lbs
< Age 7 or < 60 lbs
< Age 6 and < 55"
< Age 6 or < 60 lbs
< Age 4
< Age 5
< Age 6 and < 60 lbs
< Age 6
100
50
50
100
25
Fine
60
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
25
25
50
100
100
50
60
75
Conditional 29
Primary
Conditional 50
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
Enforced
Child Restraint Law
Child Restraint/Booster
Required
* Effective date of original booster seat law.
Iowa
Illinois
Idaho
Hawaii
Yes
7/1/04
Yes
7/1/07
Yes
7/1/05
Yes
1/1/04
Yes
7/1/06
No
No
Yes
7/1/01
Yes
1/1/02
Yes
8/1/03
Yes
10/1/05
Yes
1/1/03
Yes
10/16/02
No
“Booster”
Law *
Georgia
District of
Columbia
Florida
Delaware
Connecticut
Colorado
California
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
Alabama
State
No
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Points
License Insurance
Yes
Yes
Enforced
Primary
Secondary
Primary
Primary
Conditional
Primary
Primary
Driver and front-seat occupants Primary
Driver and front-seat occupants Primary
if driver is 18 or older; Driver
and all occupants if driver is less
than 18
Driver and front-seat occupants Primary
Drivers, all front-seat occupants,
less than 18 in the rear seat.
Drivers, all front-seat occupants,
less than 18 in the rear seat.
Drivers, all front-seat occupants,
age 8-17 in the rear seat.
Driver and all occupants
Driver and all occupants
Driver and all occupants
Driver and front-seat occupants Primary
Driver and front-seat occupants Secondary
Driver and all occupants
Driver and all occupants
Primary
Driver and front-seat occupants Secondary
Driver and front-seat occupants Secondary
Driver and front-seat occupants Primary
Required to be restrained
Seat Belt Law
25
25
25
25
45
15
30
50
25
15
15
20
15
25
25
25
Fine
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
“Pickup”
Provisions
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes if < Yes if < 17 Yes
17
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
Points
License Insurance
No
No
Table 1 – Basic Provisions of State Child Restraint and Seat Belt Laws (as of July 1, 2007).
17
No
No
Yes
8/28/06
Yes
10/1/03
Yes
7/1/02
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Yes
12/1/01
Yes
6/17/05
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
50
25
10
25
62
50
50
20
Fine
< Age 6 or < 60 lbs
Primary
Primary
Primary
< Age 6 and < 55"
< Age 8 and < 80 lbs
Primary
Primary
< Age 6 and < 61 lbs
< Age 6
5
100
25
500
25
< Age 4
Primary
25
< Age 8 and < 80 lbs and < Primary
50
57"
< Age 6 and < 60 lbs
Secondary 100
< Age 4
< Age 5 or < 41 lbs
< Age 4
< Age 4 or < 40 lbs
< Age 8 and < 80 lbs
< Age 8 and < 80 lbs and < Primary
57"
< 41"
Primary
< Age 6 and < 61 lbs
Primary
Enforced
Child Restraint Law
Child Restraint/Booster
Required
* Effective date of original booster seat law.
New Mexico
New Jersey
Yes
6/1/04
New Hampshire Yes
1/1/04
Nevada
Nebraska
Montana
Maryland
Maine
Kentucky
Louisiana
Massachusetts
Michigan
“Booster”
Law *
Yes
7/1/06
No
Yes
1/1/04
Yes
1/1/03
Yes
10/1/03
No
No
Kansas
State
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Points
License Insurance
No
No
Enforced
Secondary
Primary
Secondary
Secondary
Secondary
Primary
Primary
Yes
Driver and all occupants
Primary
No requirements for drivers or
na
occupants 18 or older to be
restrained.
Driver and front-seat occupants Primary
Driver and front-seat occupants; Secondary
drivers and all occupants if
driven by provisional licensee
Driver and all occupants
Secondary
Driver and all occupants
Driver and right-front-seat
occupants
Driver and all occupants
Driver, all front-seat occupants,
age 4-15 in the rear seat.
Driver, all front-seat occupants,
age 4-10 in the rear seat.
Driver and front-seat occupants
Driver and front-seat occupants
Driver and all occupants
Driver and all occupants
Primary
Driver and front-seat occupants Primary
Driver and front-seat occupants Secondary
Required to be restrained
Seat Belt Law
25
50
0
25
25
20
25
10
25
25
25
25
62
25
25
10
Fine
unk
Yes
na
unk
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
unk
Yes
na
unk
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Points
License Insurance
No
No
Table 1 – Basic Provisions of State Child Restraint and Seat Belt Laws (as of July 1, 2007).
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
“Pickup”
Provisions
18
No
Yes
1/1/04
Yes
7/1//02
Yes
7/1/02
Yes
7/20/05
Yes
3/1/05
Yes
1/1/05
Yes
8/1/05
No
Yes
3/31/04
Yes
6/28/01
Yes
2/21/03
Yes
7/9/01
Yes
7/1/01
No
Yes
7/1/04
No
“Booster”
Law *
Primary
Primary
25
21
Fine
Primary
77
< Age 8 and < 57"
< Age 8 and < 57"
< Age 8
< Age 5
< Age 8
< Age 5 and < 36"
< Age 5 and < 40 lbs
< Age 9 and < 57"
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
Primary
20
86
50
45
25
200
20
50
< Age 8 and < 80 lbs and < Conditional 100
57"
< Age 7 and < 80 lbs and < Primary
75
54"
< Age 6 and < 80 lbs
Primary
150
< Age 8 and < 57"
< Age 7 unless > 79 lbs and Primary
25
> 56"
< Age 4 or < 40 lbs
Conditional 25
< Age 6
Primary
50
< Age 8 and < 80 lbs
< Age 7
Enforced
Child Restraint Law
Child Restraint/Booster
Required
* Effective date of original booster seat law.
West Virginia
Washington
Virginia
Utah
Vermont
Texas
South Dakota
Tennessee
South Carolina
Rhode Island
Pennsylvania
Oregon
Ohio
Oklahoma
North Dakota
North Carolina
New York
State
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Points
License Insurance
No
No
Enforced
Conditional
Primary
Primary
Primary
Drivers, all front-seat occupants, Secondary
less than 18 in the rear seat.
Driver and all occupants
Driver and front-seat occupants Secondary
Drivers, all front-seat occupants, Primary
less than 17 in the rear seat.
Driver and all occupants
Secondary
Driver and all occupants
Secondary
Driver and front-seat occupants Secondary
Driver and front-seat occupants Primary
Driver and all occupants
Drivers, all front-seat occupants, Secondary
less than 18 in the rear seat.
Driver and all occupants
Secondary
Driver and all occupants
Driver and front-seat occupants Secondary
Driver and front-seat occupants Primary
Driver and front-seat occupants Secondary
Driver and all occupants
Driver and front-seat occupants Primary
Required to be restrained
Seat Belt Law
25
37
25
45
25
50
20
50
25
75
10
77
30
20
20
0
20
Fine
No
No
No
No
unk
No
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
unk
No
No
No
No
No
unk
No
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
unk
No
Points
License Insurance
No
No
Table 1 – Basic Provisions of State Child Restraint and Seat Belt Laws (as of July 1, 2007).
No
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
“Pickup”
Provisions
19
Yes
7/1/03
Wyoming
< Age 9 and < 81 lbs
Primary
< Age 8 and < 80 lbs and < Primary
57"
Enforced
Child Restraint Law
Child Restraint/Booster
Required
* Effective date of original booster seat law.
Yes
6/1/05
“Booster”
Law *
Wisconsin
State
60
75
Fine
No
No
Points
License Insurance
No
No
Enforced
Driver and all front-seat
Secondary
occupants and occupants of
rear seats with lap and shoulder
belts.
Driver and all occupants
Secondary
Required to be restrained
Seat Belt Law
25
10
Fine
No
No
Points
License Insurance
No
No
Table 1 – Basic Provisions of State Child Restraint and Seat Belt Laws (as of July 1, 2007).
No
Yes
“Pickup”
Provisions
3.2
LITERATURE REVIEW
The inventory of State child restraint laws provided a historical perspective of progress in
booster seat law enactment over the past 5 years. The task activity also highlighted the wide
variation across States in the features of these booster seat laws. This information provided a
foundation for explaining booster seat use rates uncovered during the literature review, and for
comparing booster seat use rates in States with and without booster laws. Low booster seat use
among 4- to 8-year-old children may be explained by lack of booster seat laws, by laws which
make a violation a secondary offense, and by laws which fail to reach best practices. However,
booster seat laws may be just one factor that contributes to booster seat use or nonuse. The
literature review was conducted to provide an up-to-date picture of the booster seat use rates in
the Nation; describe the effectiveness of booster seat laws; and to provide a better understanding
of the parental/caregiver characteristics that contribute to inconsistent booster seat use among
this age group. Booster seat use studies included observational surveys, crash data analyses,
telephone surveys, and focus group sessions. The review focused primarily on studies conducted
during the past 5 years.
3.2.1
Observational Surveys
Within the past 5 years, observational studies on booster seat use have been conducted
describing nationwide booster seat use and statewide booster seat use, employing probabilitybased sampling techniques.2 Studies looking at booster seat use across multiple States using
convenience sampling techniques have also been conducted. Details of seven observational
booster seat use studies are provided below.
The most recent NHTSA National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) was
conducted in the summer of 2006 across the United States. The probability-based survey was
based on observations of children in vehicles. The survey found that 41% of children ages 4 to 8
were in a booster seat (25% in a high-backed booster and 16% in a backless booster). For the
remaining children in this age group, 17% were in child safety seats, 33% were in seat belts, and
9% were unrestrained (Glassbrenner and Ye, 2007).
Another recent NHTSA-sponsored study observed booster-seat-age children arriving at
elementary schools in four cities. The study used a convenience sample to evaluate the effects of
school-based booster seat use education programs in elementary schools. The post-intervention
data were collected in May 2006 at 25 schools in 4 cities (Wilmington, DE, San Diego, CA,
Chicago, IL, and Charleston, SC). Observations of restraint use were made on 11,607 children
between age 4 and 8 in over 8,903 vehicles. Twenty percent of these children were found in
booster seats (ThinkFirst National Prevention Foundation, 2007).
2
A probability-based survey is based on observations across a random sample of roadway design and operational
conditions within a particular geographic cluster or census tract. This approach allows results to be generalized to
areas not included in the sample, to yield a National estimate of restraint use. By comparison, a convenience-based
survey relies on observations at sites that are chosen because they exhibit a high frequency of a particular target
population (e.g., a parking lot outside a destination for drivers with toddlers or booster-seat-age children). A
convenience sample may not yield statistically-representative data that can be projected to areas not included in
the survey.
20
A recent study by Vanderbilt University researchers evaluated the effects of Tennessee’s
enhanced child restraint law (enacted in July 2005) covering new requirements for 4- to 8-yearolds (Gunn, Phillippi, & Cooper, 2007). Pre- and post-law observation data were collected at 34
sites (after-school programs and elementary schools) in 3 urban counties in the State, using a
convenience sample. The survey found a significant increase in booster seat use among this age
group from pre-law (29%) to post-law (39%) periods. The survey observed 1,247 children ages
4 to 8 (618 in the post-law period).
In the summer of 2004, a large-scale booster seat use observation survey was conducted
in Michigan with a probability-based sample of over 3,400 children 4 to 8 years old.
Observations were made at intersections and fast-food restaurants in 31 counties which were also
used for the annual statewide seat belt use observation study. Researchers from the University of
Michigan found 8.6% of these children restrained in booster seats and 5.1% in child safety seats.
This State did not have a booster seat law; however it did have a primary seat belt law (Eby,
Bingham, Vivoda, & Ragunathan, 2005).
In the fall of 2002, a NHTSA-sponsored child restraint system use and misuse
observational study looked at children less than 80 pounds at 75 sites in 6 States (Decina,
Lococo, & Block, 2005). A convenience sample of over 4,000 vehicles with these young
children was obtained, largely at shopping centers. Of the 2,571 children ages 4 through 8,
22.4% were in booster seats and 19% were in child safety seats (Decina & Lococo, 2004).
Additional analyses from the study revealed that child safety seat and booster seat usage
decreased for each 1-year increase in age beyond age 4 (i.e., 46.1% of children age 5; 29.7% of
children age 6; 17% of children age 7; and 6.3% of children age 8).
Between May and August 2003, Washington State University’s Division of Government
Studies and Services conducted a booster seat use observational survey. They found 49% of
children 4 to 8 years of age in a booster seat (weighted Statewide sample of 890), and 44.7% of
children between 40 and 80 pounds in a booster seat (weighted Statewide sample of 823).
Booster seat use by minorities was approximately 10% lower than that of Whites. The
probability-based sampling design provided an accurate estimate of statewide safety restraint
usage (Stehr & Lovrich, 2003). At the time this study was conducted, booster seats were
mandatory for children weighing between 40 and 60 pounds or younger than 6 years of age.
In an earlier study conducted in Washington between February and April 2000,
researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center/University of Washington
observed a convenience sample of children traveling in vehicles as they left child care centers
and elementary schools. Of the 1,539 children eligible for booster-seat use based on best
practices for age and weight (e.g., 40 to 80 pounds, and/or between ages 4 and 8), only 21.3%
were using booster seats. In this age group, use of booster seats decreased with increases in age.
Six-year-old children were half as likely to be restrained using a booster seat relative to 4-yearold children. Eight-year-old children were rarely restrained in a booster seat (Ebel, Koepsell,
Bennett, & Rivara, 2003). At the time this study was conducted, Washington did not have a
booster seat law.
21
3.2.2
Crash Data Analyses
The most recent Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data from 2004 showed that
of the 334 children ages 4 to 8 who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, 47% were
unrestrained (NHTSA, 2005). Another FARS report looked at trends over a 5-year period from
1998 through 2002. For single-vehicle fatality crashes involving children in this age group,
28.8% of these unrestrained children did not survive. In multiple-vehicle fatality crashes
involving children in this age group, 26.9% of these unrestrained children did not survive
(Starnes, 2003).
The Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at the Children’s Hospital of
Philadelphia has collected information on more than 300,000 crashes involving over 350,000
children since 1997. The most recently published study showed that 45% of children age 4 to 8
involved in crashes were in child restraints (e.g., child safety seats, belt-positioning boosters, or
shield boosters). A further breakdown of the data showed that 27% of children ages 4 to 8 were
restrained using belt-positioning boosters (Partners for Child Passenger Safety, 2005).
CIRP also compared injury risk and patterns of injury for children age 4 to 8 restrained
in belt-positioning boosters compared to those using seat belts alone. The analysis examined
3,616 crashes between December 1998 and May 2002 involving 4,243 children. Eighty percent
of these children were either in a belt-positioning booster or a vehicle seat belt. The adjusted risk
of injury for this age group was reduced by 59% when children were restrained with the use of
belt-positioning boosters when compared to the use of adult seat belts alone. The children in seat
belts alone had injuries to every body region (Durbin, Elliott, & Winston, 2003).
3.2.3
Telephone Surveys
The Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey is a biennial national telephone survey on
occupant protection issues sponsored by the NHTSA. The 2003 survey used two questionnaires,
each administered to a randomly selected sample of approximately 6,000 people 16 or older.
In the most recent MVOSS survey (early 2003), 60% of participants with children
younger than 9 reported that the (referent) child used a child safety seat all the time; and 29% of
participants reported the child used a seat belt all the time. Most children age 6 through 8
discontinued using a child safety seat or booster seat. Although booster seats are recommended
for most children 4 through 8, the survey found only 21% of children in that age range using
them and another 19% using forward-facing child safety seats (Boyle & Vanderwolf, 2005).
The 2003 MVOSS survey asked drivers about the type of child safety seat or booster seat
being used by age (Boyle & Vanderwolf, 2005). The following percentages of booster seat use
by age were obtained by participants with children younger than 9 who reported that on occasion
a child safety seat or booster seat was being used:
22
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Children younger than age 2 = 10%
Age 2 = 8%
Age 3 = 12%
Age 4 = 29%
Age 5 = 32%
Age 6 = 27%
Age 7 = 15%
Age 8 = 9%
Booster seat use by weight of the child was also obtained in this survey, as follows:
•
•
•
Less that 20 pounds = 7%
20 to 29 pounds = 5%
30 to 39 pounds = 15%
•
•
3.2.4
Focus Group Surveys and Interviews
40 to 60 pounds = 25%
61 or more pounds = 9%
In the late 1990s, CIRP (formerly Partners for Child Passenger Safety) examined
premature graduation, which refers to moving children into adult seat belts before they fit
properly, putting them at greater risk for injury. Focus groups and telephone interviews were
conducted with parents/caregivers of young children in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to explore
the nature and causes of premature graduation. Most parents/caregivers were aware that a
booster seat was the appropriate restraint to use when a child outgrew a child safety seat, and
many reported that they actually had used a booster seat for a short time before moving the child
to an adult seat belt. Differences in knowledge and risk perception were found between
parents/caregivers who used booster seats and parents who used seat belts for their children.
Parents/caregivers using booster seats were generally more aware of child restraint issues (e.g.,
legislation, risks, best practices), were more active in seeking information, more concerned about
the potential of injury, and less confident about their ability to sufficiently protect their children
from injury, than those who used seat belts to restrain children. Parents/caregivers indicated that
they did not always restrain children or use restraints properly because: the child was too big for
a child restraint; they were only traveling a short distance; the child protested and refused to use
the seat; and/or the seat was not available (Winston, Moll, Durbin, & Kassam-Adams, 2001).
Other research in the late 1990s sought to identify reasons for nonuse of booster seats by
interviewing a subset of drivers from an observation study of booster-seat-age children in the
Washington. Approximately 46% of respondents felt their child was large enough to stop using
a booster; about 21% intended to use the booster seat but had not; about 11% reported problems
with installing the booster seat in the vehicle or putting the child in the seat; 7% had not
considered purchasing a booster seat; and 4% said their child disliked the booster seat (Ramsey,
Simpson, & Rivara, 2000).
Recent focus group work with State and local law enforcement officers in three States
(Colorado, Maine, and Maryland) that had recently passed booster seat legislation found that
officers strongly supported the use of booster seats and the legal requirements mandating booster
seat use. However, the officers reported that the complexity of CPS guidelines was a barrier to
their use and to enforcement of booster seat laws. They indicated that they would enforce the
law on a case-by-case basis. Parents/caregivers making an effort to do the right thing would
generally be provided with education, in lieu of ticketing for violations. Commitment from
department heads would also influence enforcement activity. Participants recommended that
23
booster seat citations be included in NHTSA’s Click It or Ticket campaigns. They stated that
simpler booster seat laws and stiffer penalties (application of points and higher fines) would
increase compliance (Raymond, Seifert, Golembiewski, & Knoblauch, 2004).
3.2.5
Summary of Literature Review
While the percentage of appropriately restrained children age 4 to 8 varies across
observation studies, one consistent behavior pattern is that the older the child, the less likely a
booster seat will be used.
Driver seat belt use has a positive influence on children’s restraint use (Decina & Lococo,
2004). The recent Michigan study found that children riding with belted drivers were restrained in
booster seats about 10% of the time, while those riding with unbelted drivers were restrained in
booster seats 1 to 2% of the time (Eby et al., 2005). Children in minority populations and
children being transported by older drivers were also less likely to be using booster seats (Stehr &
Lovrich, 2003; Decina, Lococo, & Block, 2005; Eby et al., 2005; ThinkFirst National Prevention
Foundation, 2007).
The review of quantitative and qualitative research studies uncovered differences between
users and nonusers of booster seats that related to risk perception, knowledge of the laws,
understanding of how booster seats work, and parenting skills. Factors that have been shown to
contribute to parents’/caregivers’ nonuse of booster seats for their young children include:
•
A disconnect between recommended and evidence-based best practices and booster seat
laws, and parent/caregiver reliance on State laws to guide safe practices;
•
Lack of understanding about best practices for child passenger safety;
•
Underestimation of the risk of being involved in a crash;
•
Lack of understanding of the physics involved in a crash and the injury consequences;
•
Misperception that a child is big enough for a vehicle seat belt (and underestimation of
the injury prevention potential of an adult seat belt for a small child);
•
Lack of understanding about the safety benefits of booster seats;
•
Misperception that a child is too big for a booster seat;
•
Inconvenience of using a booster seat or switching the booster between two vehicles;
•
Child’s discomfort or resistance in using the booster seat;
•
Cost or accessibility of a booster seat prohibits its use;
•
Parent’s/caregiver’s perception that they won’t get caught or that the penalties are minor
or nonexistent for not using a booster seat; and
24
•
Situational circumstances may preclude the use of booster seats (e.g., extra occupants in
the vehicle).
Interventions that have been effective in increasing booster seat use were also reviewed. One
meta-analysis study of booster seat intervention programs found that combining education with
either incentives to acquire booster seats (e.g., discount coupons) or distribution of free booster seats
increased booster seat use. There is also some evidence that legislation has a beneficial effect on the
use of booster seats (Ehiri, King, Ejere, & Mouzon, 2006). Other studies on the impact of legislation
have also shown increases in booster seat use after implementation of booster seat laws (Gunn,
Phillippi, & Cooper, 2007; Winston, Kallan, Elliott, Xie, & Durbin, 2007; NHTSA, 2007).
Effective messaging for booster seat intervention programs has been a topic of recent study
by Dr. Will from Eastern Virginia Medical School and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.
Will (2005) states that most caregivers possess an “immunity fallacy,” which is a reduced perception
of risk for motor vehicle injury to their children. Because of their false perception that driving is not
risky, they believe that their young children are safe enough using the adult seat belt. As a
consequence, caregivers who encounter traditionally designed booster seat intervention messages
(i.e., those which are primarily informational) don’t see a need for corrective action and therefore
tune out the message. According to Will, for maximum behavioral success, injury prevention
messages must shock and surprise parents/caregivers into paying attention to something they would
normally dismiss as unimportant. Properly designed fear appeals have two key elements: they must
convince people that there is a high probability for the danger, and they must focus on the minimal
effort required to adopt the recommended precaution. Effective messaging for child passenger
safety must simultaneously inform, persuade, arouse alarm, evoke high emotion, create feelings of
vulnerability, and instill in parents/caregivers a high sense of efficacy for protecting their children
(Will, 2005).
Will (2005) notes that gore is not necessary for a properly designed fear appeal message.
Instead, occupant protection messaging should include crash test footage that portrays the power of
crash forces, and fear-evoking photo images of the types of injuries that may be sustained in crashes.
In research sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control, a 6-minute video (“Boost ‘Em In The
Back Seat!”) using a novel threat-appeal approach (without gore) was used to deliver preventative
messages about the importance of booster seat and rear-seat use to parents. The video intervention
program was piloted at two after-school care centers via an interrupted time series design with two
control sites for comparison (Will, Sabo, & Porter, 2007). Study findings indicated that, compared
to baseline and control assessments, the treatment group’s child passenger safety knowledge, riskreduction attitudes, perception of fear and efficacy, and behavioral intentions related to booster seat
use and back seat use increased significantly from pre- to post-test. Trend analyses confirmed
significant increases in overall observed restraint use and booster seat use following exposure to the
intervention video compared to baseline and control sites.
The literature review uncovered barriers to the enforcement of booster seat laws. Based on
the findings from focus groups with law enforcement officers, there is a preference to educate as
opposed to enforce. Providing officers with education on the safety benefits of booster seats and a
better understanding the child restraint laws; enacting stronger booster seat laws; and commitment
from top management might promote more enforcement of these laws.
25
3.3
OBSERVATIONAL STUDY OF THE IMACT OF A BOOSTER SEAT LAW
While the literature search in the last task found several studies that evaluated the effects
of child restraint laws on child passenger restraint use, only one observational study (Gunn,
Phillippi, & Cooper, 2007) and one crash data study (Winston et al., 2007) were identified that
examined the effects of booster seat laws on booster seat use. The observational study conducted
in this project shed more light on the influence of booster seat law enactment on booster seat use.
In this task, observations of booster seat use and nonuse were conducted in a State with a
newly enacted booster seat law (Wisconsin) and in a neighboring comparison State with no
booster seat law (Michigan). Observations were made in May 2006 (pre-law) and in September
2006 (post-law). Wisconsin’s law was enacted on June 1, 2006. A significant improvement
(48.6% to 57.7%) in booster seat and child safety seat use for children age 4 to 8 was found in
Wisconsin after the booster seat law was passed. Even though there was improvement (41.6% to
47.5%) in booster seat and child safety seat use in Michigan, it was not statistically significant.
More details of the study findings are presented below.
Overall, driver and vehicle characteristics (e.g., percentage of female versus male, race,
vehicle types, and number of occupants) were similar in Wisconsin and Michigan during the preand post-intervention periods.
Although booster seat use among children 4 to 8 increased from 40 to 45.9% in
Wisconsin and from 38.6 to 40.2% in Michigan during this same period, these increases were not
statistically significant (See Table 2). However, during the pre- and post- booster seat law
period, the overall patterns of restraint use (seat belt, child safety seat, booster, and unrestrained)
for children 4 to 8 changed significantly in Wisconsin (p<.02) and in Michigan (p<.01). In both
States, the number of children in child safety seats and booster seats increased, and the number
of children in seat belts decreased. However, in Wisconsin, the number of unrestrained children
remained relatively stable, while the number in Michigan increased.
Table 2. Restraint Use for Booster-Seat-Age Children.
Restraint Type
Seat Belt
Child Safety Seat
Booster
Unrestrained
Total
Wisconsin
Pre N=407
Post N=355
30.7%
21.1%
8.6%
11.8%
40.0%
45.9%
20.6%
21.1%
100.0%
100.0%
Michigan
Pre N=472
Post N=465
45.6%
35.7%
3.0%
7.3%
38.6%
40.2%
12.9%
16.8%
100.0%
100.0%
Since there is a large variation in children’s sizes between 4 and 8, smaller children
would be appropriately restrained in child safety seats with an internal harness, while larger
children would be appropriately restrained in booster seats. There is also some variation in upper
weight limits for forward-facing child safety seats with internal harnesses (e.g., from 40 to 80
pounds), so children 40 pounds and over may still be appropriately restrained in a child safety
26
seat. A chi-square test was performed to determine if there was a significant difference from the
pre- to post- booster law period in the number of children who were appropriately restrained,
without regard to the type of child restraint system. Thus, an appropriately restrained child could
be riding in a booster seat or in a child safety seat. In Wisconsin, significantly more children
were appropriately restrained from before to after the law (p<.02) while the results for Michigan
were not significant. The combination of child safety seat and booster seat use in Wisconsin
showed an increase of 9.1 percentage points (48.6% to 57.7%) and the same combination yielded
an increase in Michigan of 5.9 percentage points (41.6% to 47.5 %) (See Figure 2).
60%
55%
50%
45%
40%
Pre
Post
Wisconsin
Michigan
Figure 2. Children Age 4 to 8 Appropriately Restrained in
Child Safety Seats or Booster Seats.
There was also a trend toward fewer children inappropriately restrained for their age
(e.g., in seat belts or completely unrestrained) as a consequence of the booster law. In
Wisconsin, the number of children in seat belts and the number of children who were completely
unrestrained decreased by 9.1 percentage points (51.3% before the law; 42.2% after the law). In
Michigan, during this same period, the number of children in seat belts and the number of
children who were unrestrained decreased by 6 percentage points (58.5% before the law; 52.5%
after the law).
For both States, over one-half of the booster seats were the backless type in the pre- and
post-intervention periods. Over one-third of the booster seats were belt-positioning high back
models in the pre- and post-intervention periods. About 10% were combination seats and only
about 2% were shield boosters in each period.
These findings offer the first indications that Wisconsin’s booster seat law had the effect
of increasing child restraint system use (child safety seat or booster seats) for children between
ages 4 and 8. However, this study had limitations because it used a convenience sample. While
not necessarily representative of the State, the study findings showed a significant change in the
direction of safer practices from pre- to post- booster seat law enactment.
It can be inferred that the booster seat law motivated parents and caregivers to move their
children into a restraint that was appropriate for the child’s age and weight. Since there was no
concomitant change in the comparison State from pre- to post-intervention (no child booster seat
27
law was implemented in Michigan), it appears that the increase in appropriately restrained
children in Wisconsin was the result of the new booster seat law.
Findings from the observation study were included as a discussion topic in the
subsequent focus groups conducted in this project. Discussion about the effects of booster seat
laws on improving booster seat use in communities fueled a lively discussion with several
parents/caregivers in the cities. In addition, many of the law enforcement officers were quite
surprised that enactment of a booster seat law without any enforcement in place actually changed
behavior. Discussions about increasing booster seat use through increased enforcement of
booster laws ensued. Details of the focus group activity follow below.
3.4
FOCUS GROUP SESSIONS
The literature review provided evidence that booster seat use increases when a booster
seat law is enacted. The booster seat observational study conducted in this project confirmed this
finding. However, the observational study also showed that the law wasn’t 100% effective.
Three months after the primary law covering children age 4 to 8 had been in place in Wisconsin,
21% of the booster-seat-age children were riding unrestrained and another 21% were
inappropriately restrained in adult seat belts.
Focus groups were conducted with parents/caregivers of booster-age children to learn
why parents/caregivers don’t always restrain their children in booster seats and what would
motivate them to do so. Focus groups were held with law enforcement officers to learn what the
barriers are to enforcing booster seat laws, and what strategies would be effective in removing
these barriers.
Parents/caregivers generally confirmed the reasons for not using booster seats that were
highlighted in the literature review: lack of understanding of the laws and best practices for
restraining their children, underestimation of the risk involved when using seat belts instead of
booster seats, indulgent parenting when their children resist using booster seats, and low threat of
being ticketed for failure to comply (with the exception of participants from California). A new
reason for not using booster seats was identified by the parents/caregivers in this project. There
is a perception that because booster seats wobble, they are unsafe. Therefore, many caregivers
believe that their children are safer when restrained in an adult seat belt. Although the strategies
they recommended for increasing booster seat use were not necessarily new, the concept that
messaging should focus of the risk of injury and death to their children, using visual methods
(crash tests with dummies, actual crash pictures, and testimonials by parents whose children had
been injured in a crash because they were inappropriately restrained) supported the idea that fear
appeals are acceptable to parents, and would motivate them to change their behavior.
Although law enforcement officers confirmed that secondary child restraint laws are a
barrier to their enforcement, they also provided new information about the institutional barriers
to the enforcement of booster seat laws. These institutional barriers are that (1) the level of
understanding about appropriate restraint for age and weight of a child by most officers
precludes them from stopping drivers, (2) there is a lack of funding and a lack of commitment in
many departments for child restraint law enforcement activities, and (3) lenient judges dismiss
28
child restraint law violation cases in many States, which reduces the motivation of law
enforcement officers to ticket for these violations. Like the parents/caregivers, they
recommended that educational messages provide visual and testimonial evidence of the risks of
injury for inappropriately restrained children. They also recommended that booster seat
manufacturers and retailers, and pediatricians should be encouraged to inform the public about
the laws and injury risks from non-compliance.
More detail is presented below from the focus groups about the barriers to booster seat
use, the barriers to enforcing the laws, and strategies to improve the effectiveness of booster
seat laws.
3.4.1
Focus Groups with Law Enforcement Personnel
Focus groups with law enforcement personnel included both certified child passenger
safety (CPS) officers and those charged with enforcing the laws but having no special training in
the subject. A summary of topics discussed with these officers follows. A sample of comments
from the officers that best represents the tone in the sessions is also included. A code for
location of the focus group session (R=Richmond, P = Pittsburgh, C = Chicago, and S =
Sacramento) follows each comment.
3.4.1.1 Barriers to Parent/Caregiver Use of Booster Seats
Based on their interactions with drivers caught in violation of booster seat laws, law
enforcement officers were asked why parents/caregivers don’t use booster seats (or don’t use
them properly) to restrain their 4- to 8-year-old passengers. Officers identified the following
barriers that stand in the way of full-time and appropriate use of child booster seats among the
public. These re-confirm the findings from the literature review.
•
Public's ignorance of the child safety laws. Officers indicated that parents/caregivers
don’t know the specifics of the child passenger safety laws, and how the law applies to
their children. Parents/caregivers tell officers that the law does not apply to their children
because of their size. Officers also use size of child to check for child restraint law
violations. Some will interview the child (e.g., how old are you?) as opposed to the
parent/caregiver to ensure more honest answers.
The most common excuse I've heard is that they don't know the law. P
•
Public's ignorance about proper use of booster seats. According to the officers, many
parents don't know how to use booster seats properly. A common error is to place the
shoulder belt behind the child.
Parents have a misconception that they can use a booster seat just with a lap belt. That
defeats the purpose. The point of making them sit higher is so that the shoulder belt can
be used. C
29
A lot of what you do with booster seats is education. You really have to take the time to
sit down with parents and tell them why a BPB (belt positioning booster) isn't
independently belted to the seat. P
•
Public's failure to recognize the degree of risk to themselves and the unrestrained child.
The officers stated that there is a strong correlation between adult use of seat belts and
having children properly belted in booster seats.
If Mom and Dad aren't buckled up, the child's most likely not buckled up either. R
Sometimes, the kids get mixed signals. With Mom, you have to buckle up. With Dad,
you don't. R
•
Parents/caregivers are too permissive, when their children complain about using booster
seats. Parents/caregivers tell the officers during traffic stops that children hate booster
seats and refuse to stay in them. Law enforcement officers are also told by
parents/caregivers that the child was in the seat when the trip started but somehow
escaped from it. These excuses irritate the officers the most.
How many times do we in enforcement hear the excuses… they won't stay in the seat, they
cry. My question is who is the child and who is the parent? R
I don't know how many parents say can you talk to my son. He won't stay in his seat.
That's ridiculous! Who cares what (the child) likes? You gotta be a parent. P
I have one message for you: be the parent. If you had put (the child) in it from the
beginning and ignored the crying, you wouldn't have a problem now. P
They say it's a baby seat and that my kid puts up a fuss because his friends are not
in it. C
•
Booster seats are complicated. Officers hear from parents/caregivers that the seats are
too complicated, difficult to move from one vehicle to the next, etc. However, the
officers believe that the real problem is not the installation of the seats but, how the
children are secured in the seats (e.g., the placement of the shoulder belt.)
•
Booster seats are too expensive. The officers were aware that booster seats are generally
not expensive, far less so than child safety seats; and that there are many programs in
place to provide poor families with free or inexpensive booster sets.
I issue most of my child seat tickets in the poorest areas of the city (of Richmond). When
they say they can't afford it, they quite honestly can't. But, the low-income program takes
that excuse away. R
30
•
Other common excuses. The officers reported hearing all of the common excuses,
including: “it’s a short trip,” “seat left in other car,” I’m not the usual driver,” or “child
was asleep so I laid him down in the back seat.”
3.4.1.2. Barriers to the Enforcement of Booster Seat Laws
The law enforcement officers stated that child safety seat and seat belt laws are strongly
enforced. However, booster seat laws are not rigorously enforced. The participants expressed
that although they would like to enforce these booster seat laws, they were more comfortable
educating drivers and caregivers who were not following booster seat laws than they were in
punishing them.
Officers identified four institutional barriers to consistently enforcing booster seat laws.
These included:
•
Judges are too lenient. Officers stated that judges are not familiar with the child restraint
laws and are too quick to dismiss tickets for this offense.
Most justices don't know much about restraints. So, it's easier for them to wave that
fine. P
•
Shortage of knowledgeable police on the subject of child restraints and booster seats.
The participants stated that often, officers do not feel that they are qualified to write a
ticket or offer education because they don't feel like they know enough about child
restraint systems, including booster seats and proper use/installation.
If there is a question about whether the seat is in properly, most of us won't deal
with that. S
Who is going to define "properly?" The average patrolman doesn't know enough about
child seats to argue before a judge about it, so they don't give tickets. R
A lot of them never issue child restraint tickets because they don't have the knowledge for
doing it. The driver will say, since I don't have it in properly, can you show me how to
put it in. And, they can't! R
We have 34 officers in the department. Only about eight of them know the ins and outs of
seat belts. P
•
Lack of funding for police to enforce booster seat laws.
A lot of our communities are underfunded for this and, therefore, understaffed. C
31
•
Lack of police focus.
We're worried about the robberies and the drugs. We would love to put our resources
(into enforcing booster seat laws) but we can't. C
We don't go out in the street every day thinking "O.K. Child safety seats! We're looking
for the things that cause accidents like speeding and running red lights. Half the time, we
can't even see if there is a child in the car unless we stop them for something else. S
Two situational factors were identified by officers as barriers to enforcing booster laws.
These include:
•
Violations are difficult to spot due to less than ideal sight lines.
Tinted windows make it hard. R
Sometimes I can't even tell if there is a kid in the car. R
•
Probable financial impact on some families. Officers stated that they try to give
consideration to situational circumstances. Most say that they will write a ticket
regardless of any circumstance because their job is to protect children.
Are you trying to do safety for the kid? Or, are you trying to slam them for the violation,
even when they don't have the money. R
If I see that they have made an attempt and they're trying, my emphasis is on the
educational aspect rather than on penalizing them. S
If that person (one with six unrestrained children) is clearly not making an effort to
restrain their six kids, then there is no doubt in my mind that they are going to get six
tickets. R
With low-income drivers, I write the ticket to get them in (to court). Then, I make
arrangements to get them free seats so that they don't have to pay the fine. P
I just wrote out one woman for six tags. I told her to go appeal it, but at least I was
covered. She'll have to pay for one ticket. They'll chew her out for the rest of them. P
A very tall 7-year old in a booster seat, his head is going to come above the seat. If there
is not a headrest behind him, then he shouldn't be in the booster. There are times you
have to use some discretion in applying the law. P
Allowances need to be made for children who are big for their ages and don't fit
comfortably in a booster. P
32
3.4.1.3 Perceived Adequacy of Booster Seat Laws
Although the law enforcement officers represented States with differing booster seat laws
and levels of punishment, there was general agreement that (1) booster seat laws should be
primary; (2) fines should be high; and (3) punishment should include points assessed against the
license. Officers from California were more satisfied with their laws than officers from Virginia,
Pennsylvania, and Illinois.
Make it primary as opposed to secondary. Take the money that brings in and use it to
buy more seats for those who can't afford it. P
3.4.1.4 Educational Messages to Increase Booster Seat Use
Participants were presented with four “concept statements,” each focusing on an
“argument” for convincing parents and other caregivers to use booster seats properly and
consistently. These concept statements are presented in Appendix D. The four concepts focused
on the:
•
•
•
•
RISKS associated with failure to restrain the child;
threat of ENFORCEMENT for failure to restrain;
EASE of installing and using booster seats; and
DUTY of a parent to properly protect a child from harm.
Participants were invited to read all the statements and to put them in an order of
preference according to their effectiveness in encouraging booster seat use.
The law enforcement groups settled on two message concepts that they perceived to have
equal merit and great power when combined, i.e. enforcement and duty. The ease concept was
not rated high; it was a non-issue. This is because using a booster seat properly was not
considered difficult, especially when compared to using child safety seats properly.
Even if you're stupid or irresponsible, you understand getting a ticket. S
Some parents could care less about their kids. P
(Enforcement) might not stop everybody, but it will bet a lot of them to pay attention. R
In their earlier discussions, the officers expressed some skepticism about how effectively
current laws are enforced. But enforcement to these participants was largely a matter of using
enforcement to educate rather than punish.
We need to educate them first. Educate instead of incarcerate. P
I truly believe in education combined with enforcement. Educate them first. Then, if they
don't follow through, drop the hammer and fully enforce. R
33
Officers were asked whether a potential public information and educational (PI&E)
campaign should focus entirely on enforcement of the booster seat laws. The moderator offered
Click It or Ticket as a model for such a campaign. Based on the officers’ comments, an
enforcement-only focus was not recommended. Rather, the officers indicated that an appeal
should first be made to the desire of parents to keep their children safe. Officers sense that most
parents want to do the right thing, but they don't recognize the risk to their children by allowing
them to ride unrestrained or restrained by seat belts. So parents need to be educated about the
consequences of failure in their duty and how they should comply with their duty.
Enforcement is secondary. Your kids are going to get hurt and it's the law. C
Enforcement might produce short-term compliance. But long term, it's going to be the
self-interest and protecting the child. C
If you run enforcement checks at a school drop-off zone, you'll see dramatic
improvement. But, the improvement will only last a few months and creep up again if you
slack off the enforcement. S
If I were going to try to change somebody's behavior, this (Duty) is how I would do it. C
Officers were comfortable with showing graphic evidence of the risks involved in noncompliance, but felt that this alone would not be sufficient persuasion.
If people think about these risks a little bit more, they're going to go get that booster
seat. R
Reminding them that injuries can occur even at low speed is a very good point. R
That's right. People think that if they don't speed, they're safe. But, these things happen
at slow speeds. R
This scared me. If I read this or saw this, there is no question that it would affect my
behavior. S
According to the participants, enforcement should be the ultimate threat aimed at those
who will not recognize and do what is right. The message sequence according to the officers
should be:
1.
2.
3.
4.
Do the right thing as a parent by properly protecting your child in a booster seat
because…
Failure to do that can result in terrible consequences and…
As law enforcement officers, we are here to guide you in the right direction. Ultimately
though…
The law is the law and we will enforce it.
34
3.4.1.7 Strategies Recommended by Law Enforcement
Seven strategies were offered by law enforcement officers to increase booster seat use.
1.
An educational emphasis aimed at the children themselves, especially grades K-3.
Educate the kids in grade school. They'll have an impact on their families. I think that is
especially true with the Spanish families. C
How about a poster in every daycare center? C
Children are impressionable. Get into the schools so the kids will tell Mommy and
Daddy to put them in the seat. R
Go into the schools, talk to the students directly and hand out the brochures to go home
to their parents. Have the parents sign something and bring it back that they read it. P
2.
More publicity with an emphasis on the risk issue. There is a need to graphically
demonstrate the consequences of not using a booster seat. Posters (showing the types of
booster seats and their proper usage in a simple and visually clear design) should be
placed in public buildings and other places where parents gather (e.g., pediatrician offices).
A lot of parents don't know what can happen to their kids. You have to use tough love, to
shock them. C
We need videos showing crash dummies, to show just how serious this is. C
We (the police) should all have pictures of children that have been crashed to show when
we stop someone for this offense. C
You need that billboard on the highway that shows a very small yellow tarp and a very
small child that wasn't in a booster seat and got in an accident. You need that shock
value. S
People will complain and take offense when you show an actual accident scene. It would
be just as effective to have the mother of a victim or near victim directly addressing the
public. I lost my child because I was running behind that day. S
How many posters do you ever see for (booster seats), even in the public aid office? C
3.
Encourage booster seat manufacturers and retailers to do more to inform the public about
the laws and the risks involved in not properly restraining their children.
If I were a seat manufacturer, I would bombard the public about the law. C
35
I think more in-store reminders… Babies R Us, Wal-Mart… would be great for the
parents and for the merchants. R
We should educate the sales people who are working where they sell the seats. We are
getting people from Toys R Us and Babies R Us at the police seminars. P
4.
Continue and augment booster seat give-aways to low income parents/caregivers.
Ford did a program called "Boost America." They gave away thousands of seats. They
had lines (of parents) wrapped around the parking lot wherever they went. CL
5.
Make better use of the captive-audience and authority aspects of pediatrician offices with
posters, leaflets and videos.
Is there a way, on a large scale, to educate parents? (What about) a video in
pediatrician offices? R
6.
Persuade corporations to include booster seat information in their material and safety sessions.
Big, private businesses, need to deal with their employees (on this topic) when they do
their health and wellness training. P
7.
Increased pressure to write tickets for restraints generally. An example is the Chief's
Challenge which, police say, causes them to push hard.
3.4.2
Focus Groups with Parents/Caregivers
Participants were recruited to achieve a balance among those who routinely use booster
seats and those who only occasionally or never use them. The objective was to develop a sense
of (1) what parents/caregivers know about booster seats and laws in their States; (2) what
barriers prevent compliance from occasional and non-users; (3) what motivates the regular
booster seat user; and (4) what strategies may compel parents/caregivers to more consistently use
booster seats. Personal comments are included. A code for location of the focus group session
(R=Richmond, P = Pittsburgh, C = Chicago, and S = Sacramento) follows each comment, as
well as a code for participant gender (F =female and M= male).
3.4.2.1 Knowledge of Booster Seats and Child Restraint Laws
Most participants knew about the various styles of booster seats, where to buy them, and
how much they cost. Most knew that the purpose of booster seats was to provide a greater
degree of safety over seat belts. Those who use the seats most often reported that the purpose
was to ensure a proper, safe, and firm fit of the shoulder belt. Some of the grandparents who
participated reported that they would use the seats if present in their sons’ or daughters’ vehicles,
but would not otherwise obtain a booster seat.
36
Participants reported that booster seats were comparatively easy to install (as opposed to
child safety seats) and could easily be transported from one vehicle to another. Participants
generally regarded booster seats as inexpensive. It was also widely understood that seats were
available free or discounted to the financially needy.
While parents/caregivers appeared to know about booster seats, they found the child
restraint laws confusing. They generally knew that age, weight, and height played a role in
determining which children should be in booster seats, but few of them could state the exact
conditions with any confidence or precision.
It has to do with when the child is 40 pounds. You can be in the right age bracket but be
too big or too small for the boosters. RF
I think the recommendation is to stop using boosters at 8 years old. Though my sevenyear-old only uses seat belts. She is very tall, so the shoulder belt rides too low when she
is in a booster. RF
It's something about 80 pounds or 8 years of age. CF
It just changed. What is it? Twenty-five pounds and up for the booster? SM
The information is not clear as to when and how long they should be in booster seats. RF
I was confused when I bought mine because the box said 30 lbs. And, I had read
somewhere that it was 40 lbs. So, I went online. Even there, I had a hard time coming up
with a definitive answer. RF
I didn't really know anything about the law until tonight. For me, it was a common sense
safety decision. CM
Nearly every participant had questions about when there might be exceptions to the law
for their own children. Many asked how the law might apply to a child who is very large or very
small for his or her age. Participants were also unsure about the penalties (fines, points) that
applied in their States, which may also relate to non-compliance with the law.
3.4.2.2 Barriers to Full-Time Use of Booster Seats
Several themes emerged from the participants’ discussions about what prevents full-time
booster seat use, including: (1) child’s dislike of seats; (2) failure to understand the importance
of booster seats; (3) ignorance or lack of unawareness of risks; (4) perception that booster
seat laws are not enforced; (5) situational factors; (6) perception that seats are not safe; (7)
perception by parents that seats are uncomfortable for their children; and (8) difficulty fitting
seats in the vehicle.
37
(1)
Child's dislike of the seats. Participants frequently reported that their children rebel
against being placed in the booster seats. They stated that 4- and 5-year-old children often
release themselves from the seat simply because they are able to or because they want to
move around the vehicle; and children age 6 or 7 often complain incessantly about being
uncomfortable and feeling too much like a baby. Negative peer pressure was offered as a
definite factor, particularly when the child reaches first grade. Some parents/caregivers
stated that they just give up.
My daughter knows how to take the belt off and will. CF
She thought it was babyish. The day she turned 8, that was the end of it. PF
My grandkids were pretty much put off by the booster seats. They are hard and
uncomfortable. As soon as they can get out of their booster seat, they get out. My threeyear-old granddaughter tries to remove the seat from the car altogether. That's how
much she hates it. RM
My son just wouldn't stay in it. As soon as I'd get him in it, he'd unbuckle the damned
thing. So, I said the hell with it and just took it out of the car. RM
He carries on about it so much that it's easier to just buckle him in the adult seat
belt. PF
My daughter doesn't like the booster seat. So, she will beat me to the car and get seated
beside me in a seat belt. And I just say "whatever." CF
I put my 4-year old in a booster seat, but not my 7-year old. She's a little tall for it and
just makes such a fuss! So, I put her in the seat belts. She's happy. She's comfortable.
No screaming and yelling. RF
My 5-year old grand daughter hates being in the booster seat, so I don't make her. She's
always buckled up though! CF
I'm one of those soccer moms that always have the car full of kids, three or four 13-yearolds and a couple of 5-year-olds. Since my 5-year-old thinks he's 13, he's embarrassed to
put the booster seat on. So, I let him use the seat belt to save the aggravation. CF
(2)
Failure to understand the importance of booster seats. Many parents/caregivers regard
seat belts as the absolute equivalent of booster seats in terms of safety for anyone age
four or older. Parents/caregivers who considered themselves to be deeply conscientious
of their children’s safety often found no safety advantage in using booster seats over
restraining children in seat belts. This was a common area of ignorance and a major
impediment to increasing booster seat use.
I never used a booster. I just buckle them in and go! RM
38
(3)
Ignorance or lack of awareness of risks associated with not using booster seats.
Participants were commonly unconcerned about nonuse of booster seats on short trips.
They were more likely to use them on highway trips, however.
I won't put it on if I'm going less than 5 minutes. It (the booster seat) is always in the car.
She'll sit on it but she won't put the belt on. But, if we're going more than 5 minutes, I'll
insist on it. CF
Oh, if we're only going halfway down the street. SM
We live in a very rural area. Around there, none of the kids are buckled in. But, as soon
as you hit the blacktop, they know that they have to be buckled up. RF
If we're going on the expressway, we need to use them. CM
If we're just going from one place to the next, not very far (we don't use them). SF
We live in the country on a dirt road. I don't worry too much about it until I hit the
freeway. SF
(4)
Perception that booster seat laws are not enforced. Participants indicated that it was
unlikely that they would ever get caught violating the booster seat law. First, they
identified that booster law enforcement would probably be a low priority for police
officers. They also said that tinted windows and high vehicle window placement would
preclude observations of violations. Second, participants reported no evidence of
enforcement. None of these participants had ever received such a citation or knew
anybody who had.
They're out there looking for people running red lights and speeding. Booster seats are
not what they're out there looking for. RM
If they catch me sliding through a light and I don't have my kid in a booster seat, then I
might get a ticket for it. Otherwise, I don't think I'd get a ticket for not using a booster
seat. RM
I have never heard of anybody getting a ticket for it. PM
In addition, participants were not concerned about the severity of punishment, because
they found it unlikely that they would be cited. An exception was in California, where
traffic citations tend to draw severe fines and are therefore, more feared. In all States
except California, participants felt that the penalties for booster seat violations were too
light and that enforcement was next to non-existent.
I don't think the penalty is enough. You can get a $300 ticket for parking in a handicap
spot. You've got your kid's life in your hands when you're driving 65 mph. The penalty's
not enough. There's no deterrent. PM
39
(5)
Situational factors. Parents/caregivers cited many other situational reasons for not
regularly using booster seats. These included: “It's in the other car,” “I was running
late,” “I just wasn't thinking about it,” and “the child needed to sleep in the back seat.”
The only time she's not in it is if my Dad has to pick her up. He doesn't have one in his
car. But, he does buckle her in. CF
I admit that it's extremely important. It's just that I'm usually running late for the bus
stop. RF
I normally won't move the car out of the driveway until everybody is buckled. They all
know that's a hard rule. But, when we're taking a long trip and night and I see them
slumped over to the side of that chair, I feel so bad. So, if they get out of it to lie down, I
let them do it. SF
Late at night, on a long trip, it's too uncomfortable for them to sleep. I let them lie down
in the back. PF
(6)
Perception that booster seats are unsafe. One of the most surprising findings in this series
of focus group sessions was that a segment of the population believes that booster seats
are unsafe. There is a feeling that the child is safer in conventional seat belts. One
common response was that the booster seat wobbles and cannot possibly be safer than a
child safety seat.
I have a personal friend that was involved in a collision and she had the child in a
backless one. Her daughter is now paralyzed from the waist down. They fold them right
in half. SF
I just don't see how those little seats make them any safer than just using seat belts. SF
I don't feel like they're safe. They are better off in the seat belt. The booster seats slide
from side to side. When you brake, the booster seat goes flying. PM
I think kids are safer buckled in seat belts in the back. The booster seat makes them too
high and I'm afraid she's going to fly over the front seat. Seated lower, she has that extra
protection from the front seat, not as far to fly. PF
(7)
Perception of parents/caregivers that seats are uncomfortable. One of the most common
complaints was that booster seats were uncomfortable for the children. Participants
reported that the seats shift forward and tilt from side to side every time a sharp turn is
taken. If the child is sleeping, there is nothing to hold him or her comfortably.
As they get older, they seem to get more uncomfortable in them. CM
40
(8)
Difficulty fitting seats in the vehicle and moving them from vehicle to vehicle.
Participants found a variety of structural shortcomings, especially when trying to use
more than one seat in a vehicle.
The way they make the booster seats so wide, it's hard to put three kids in them in the
back seat. CF
Booster seats are easy once you get them in place. It's very easy to get my 4-year-old in
and out of it. But, when I have to change from one car to another… It can be on the
right, left or center depending on the design of the car. The belt systems are different. It
can get a little crazy. RF
3.4.2.3 Motivation for Full-Time Use of Booster Seats
Several themes emerged from the discussions on what motivated full-time booster seat
use, including: (1) leading by example; (2) easy to use; (3) acceptance by children; and (4)
parental authority.
(1)
Leading by example. The most common thread among consistent users of booster seats
was their own consistent use of seat belts. Participants indicated that adult use of seat
belts provides a powerful example to the child. Also adults who do not consistently use
belts themselves are far less likely to expect their children to be properly restrained.
I do it by example. When we get in the car, it's automatic for me and for them. SM
(2)
Easy to Use. Most participants regarded the installation and use of booster seats as quite
easy, especially compared with child safety seats. However, not every one agreed with
this assessment.
The high-back booster can be difficult, but not the no-back booster. They are easy. You
can easily adjust to right-hand or left-hand installation. RF
Booster seats are easy. Child seats are a pain in the neck. RM
They're not hard to put on. RF
(3)
Acceptance by children. Participants stated that some children actually like the seats.
While many children battle to get out of the seats, some are only too happy to be in them.
For some, especially the 4- or 5-year-olds, booster seats were considered a step forward
in growing up. Most children just enjoy being able to see more from their higher position
in the car.
I like that they can see out the window better and so entertain themselves. RF
You see them in the rearview mirror better. RF
41
They're real proud for buckling themselves in. RF
He was so excited to be able to sit up high. PF
At that age, they're real independent and like that they can put themselves in and buckle
up. RF
My son loves to sit in the booster seat. He just turned 4. He gets in there by himself and
tries to buckle in. My daughter wants to sit in his booster seat. She's just 3. RM
My daughter doesn't like to ride without the booster seat. She loves being up high and
seeing everything. CF
(4)
Parental authority. Many parents/caregivers stated that they use their authority to make
sure their children are in the booster seats.
I'll threaten her that the police are going to take her away. CF
We make a game of it. The three girls will run to get in the car seats and see who can get
buckled up the fastest. CF
He hates the booster seat, but I insist on it. If he doesn't get in it, I say 'One! Two! Three!
And he knows what that means. CF
I tell them if they don't get in their belts that Mom is going to jail. CF
As far as them complaining, that's a moot point. I'm the parent. End of discussion. CM
We'll just pull over. SM
My son was 3 and wouldn't stay in it. He learned how to unbuckle himself. I tried
everything. I warned him that the police would get him. What finally worked is that I
started the seat belt patrol. If one of kids reports another kid for not being buckled, that
kid (the informer) gets 25 cents. I haven't had to dole out 25 cents for years. RF
3.4.2.4 Educational Messages to Increase Booster Seat Use
Participants examined four concept statements, each focusing on an argument for
convincing parents/caregivers to use booster seats properly and consistently. These were the
same concepts that were evaluated by law enforcement officers in the earlier focus groups, and
are shown in Appendix D. The four concepts focused on the:
•
•
•
•
RISKS associated with failure to restrain the child;
threat of ENFORCEMENT for failure to restrain;
EASE of installing and using booster seats; and
DUTY of a parent to properly protect a child from harm;
42
Participants read the statements and ranked them according to how effective they might be in
encouraging booster seat use.
The parent/caregiver groups took a somewhat different turn from the law enforcement
groups. Parents/caregivers settled on two message concepts that they perceived to have equal
merit and great power when combined—RISK and DUTY. While they considered law
enforcement as one important way to motivate people to behave in a desired way, they did not
feel that it was the only way or even the best way in the case of booster seats. Participants felt
that parents/caregivers like themselves failed to use booster seats primarily out of ignorance of
three things:
1. Ignorance of the proper way to install and use booster seats;
2. Ignorance of the law; and
3. Ignorance of the risk.
Participants offered that public information and education is the best way to address
ignorance and to persuade people at the most emotional level (i.e., the love of their children).
Consequently, the RISK concept and the DUTY concept scored particularly well. Like the
officers, parents/caregivers seemed to feel that an appeal should first be made to the innate desire
of parents to keep their children safe.
The RISK concept ushered in a very emotional segment of discussion with the groups.
Many participants had not often stopped to think about the reality of the risk taken with their
children every time they ventured out in a vehicle, even on a short trip. Their failure to put their
children in booster seats had many causes, though most translated back to a lack of appreciation
for how dangerous it was not to do so.
I do drive different with my son in the car. I am more aware of the risks. RM
I'm scared to death about drunk driving or someone molesting my child. But nothing has
ever pulled my heartstrings about car seats. PF
This heightened sense of risk, many said was more compelling than the fear of a traffic ticket.
More than fines, the big thing to me would be learning about the risk. PM
The safety of your children is the highest factor, more so than getting a ticket. RM
Participants expressed a strong desire to see risk portrayed with visualized concepts, including
crash dummies, victims’ relatives, and even actual crash pictures.
Fear motivates people. It motivates me. CM
It has to be shocking, shocking enough that people will sit up and take
notice. SM
43
Listening to another parent talk about it is good. You can easily put yourself in her
place, imagine your own children. SM
ENFORCEMENT consistently drew high scores but, in discussion, always came in as
second best to RISK and DUTY. Parents/caregivers were often skeptical that these laws are
enforced, although they felt they should be. On they other hand, they were emotionally engaged,
sometimes even surprised by, the degree of risk that was being exposed to them. Further, they
often took to heart the reminders of their responsibilities contained in the DUTY concept.
Getting a ticket is a side issue. A parent is going to be more concerned about the safety
of their child. RF
Enforcement is what happens to me. Risk is what happens to my child. That's more
important to me. RM
I bet the cops see a dozen kids a day without any belts. But, they don't do anything
because they don't want to take the time to pull you over and deal with that for 50 bucks.
I'm sorry. I don't think they do. CF
It was also clear from these participants that the threat of a fine and points (ENFORCEMENT) is
also powerful, even more so when combined with the realities of RISK.
I most of all don't want to get a ticket. This was the point that spoke to me. RF
This is the kind of thing my husband would respond to. This is the kind of thing that
would make men say I really don't want that to happen to me. RF
When I get in the car, I'm not thinking I'm going to be in an accident. I'm thinking I'm
going to get a ticket if I don't buckle up. I just feel that the chances of getting a ticket are
greater than those of being in an accident. SF
The only time people do anything is when it hits their pocket. SM
I grew up seeing public service announcements telling us to wear our seat belts. But
nobody did it until it became a law. CM
The EASY concept was inserted into the study based on literature findings that many
people found child safety restraint to be a cumbersome task. As it turned out, booster seats
largely escaped that accusation. Most participants found them pretty easy to use. Consequently,
this concept was regarded as largely pointless.
I don't think easy or hard should be a determining factor for safety. RF
It's a feel-good message, but won't compel anyone to use the booster. RF
44
The DUTY concept had very great appeal in the focus group sessions. A few participants
disliked the judgmental implications of the “it's your duty” statement.
I know all this stuff. Why are you preaching at me? RF
A lot of people don't want to be told what their duty is. But I think this would grab
them. RM
It insulted me a bit. But, then I thought they're right. CF
However, the majority felt challenged to step up to their responsibilities as parents. Many also
were stimulated by the need to be less permissive when dealing with the safety of their children.
I don't want to be a friend to my child. I want to be a parent. RM
Click It or Ticket is a personal choice. You're an adult. With your kids, it's black and
white. You only have to have one accident. And that could be it with your kid. I'm not
going to be lazy and rationalize why I'm not doing it this time. CM
You (the kid) can be mad at me. You can tell me you don't love me anymore. Doesn't
matter. It's my job to keep you safe and I'm going to do it. CM
It puts it back on our shoulders and that's where it belongs. SF
You want to get people to take responsibility for themselves instead of forcing them. SM
3.4.2.5 Strategies Recommended by Parents/Caregivers
The following strategies for convincing the public to consistently use booster seats were
volunteered by the focus group participants. Their recommendations largely focused on
educational strategies to increase the public’s knowledge about how to use a booster seat and the
specifics of the booster seat law.
1. Education.
•
Use the public schools. Teach children in the early grades and they will become
disciples of booster seat safety.
If there were campaigns in the schools and my kid came home with some of that
knowledge, it would make it a lost easier to get them in the booster seats. PM
Guest speakers in the schools. People who have actually experienced what can
happen. The younger kids, especially, can get pretty preachy once they get
something in their heads. SF
45
•
Promote the public safety clinics.
It's really nice when they have those car safety seat clinics. I went to one in my
town and found out that both of my seats were in wrong. PM
At the auto show, the police show up. They simulate accidents to show what
happens when the seat belts aren't in use; and, they talk about the importance of
child restraint. CL
•
Create materials to interest the children in the topic (e.g., things such as safety
videos with popular characters, coloring books, etc.).
Target kids with coloring books and that sort of thing. SM
2. Heighten the sense of risk (publicity and education delivery). Show parents what may
happen, and don't hesitate to be graphic.
Show (through PI&E) the effects of kids getting hurt without the seat belts. PM
3. Publicity (teach the booster seat law).
I think it's advertising. When you asked us about the law, I knew what I heard on the
national radio commercials. I didn't know anything about the state law. PM
4. Solicit the involvement of child-oriented business. Encourage child entertainment and fast
food companies to run promotions or to underwrite materials directed to their child audiences.
3.5
BRAINSTORMING SESSION
This task built upon the findings of the focus groups, the observational study, and the
literature review, which provided the topics for discussion in the brainstorming session. The
child passenger safety experience of the law enforcement and program coordinators participating
in brainstorming session provided a reality check of the strategies recommended in the prior
tasks, and helped to generate additional strategies. In brief, several hurdles limiting booster seat
law enforcement were identified. These included: lack of commitment from law enforcement
top management; lack of knowledge about child restraint laws and child passenger safety issues
among law enforcement personnel as well as judges and prosecutors; weak child restraint laws
(in terms of enforcement, fines, and penalties; and provisions for older booster seat age children);
and empathy for violators. The session concluded with proposed strategies that focused on:
education for law enforcement; judiciary outreach; stronger child restraint laws; increased
perception of enforcement; community education; and public messages aimed at increasing risk
perception among drivers about the injury consequences for unrestrained and inappropriately
restrained 4- to 8-year-old children.
46
3.5.1
Barriers to Booster Seat Law Enforcement
Panelists revealed several barriers to the enforcement of booster seat laws. These barriers
are: lack of commitment by law enforcement top management personnel; lack of education in
CPS issues among law enforcement and judicial personnel; weak child restraint laws; and
empathy for violators.
3.5.1.1 Lack of Commitment by Law Enforcement Agencies
Panelists were in agreement that enforcement of child restraint law violations must be a
priority that comes from the top down. A common factor cited by the law enforcement panelists
was that if the chief of police is unwilling to make enforcement of the booster seat law (and other
occupant restraint laws) a priority, then these laws will not be enforced by department officers.
3.5.1.2 Lack of CPS Education Among Law Enforcement Personnel
The consensus among the law enforcement panelists was that most patrol officers, line
officers, and chiefs are not well educated about child occupant restraint issues or their State’s
child restraint laws. There are several reasons for this, including a lack of commitment from the
police departments to train officers on this issue; and lack of staffing, resources, and time for
training. Also, CPS issues are not covered in basic training for new recruits at the police academies.
3.5.1.3 Lack of Judicial Outreach
Panelists stated that in general, judges do not know the specifics of booster seat and other
child restraint laws. They often think citations for booster law violations are frivolous, and will
reduce fines or dismiss the charge completely, particularly if minute details are excluded from
the ticket. Panelists commented that judges are elected officials and strive to maintain good will
among the public by not persecuting parents/caregivers for what they think is a trivial violation.
Many judges are lenient of the CPS issue and even admonish law enforcement officers for
writing these “frivolous tickets.” This attitude by judges further serves to reduce officers’
motivation to write tickets for booster seat law violations.
3.5.1.4 Weak Child Restraint Laws
In some States, the booster seat law is a secondary enforcement law. Thus, the driver
must be cited for a primary violation, before a citation can be given for the booster seat violation.
In addition, if the driver goes to court and the primary violation is dismissed, the booster seat
violation is dismissed as well. In many States, fines for booster seat violations are dismissed or
reduced if the violator shows evidence at a court hearing that a booster seat was purchased or
acquired. While this was generally acceptable to panelists as the intent of child restraint laws is
to ensure that children are properly restrained, panelists reported anecdotal evidence of
parents/caregivers returning the booster seat to the retailer after the court hearing. These issues
tend to reduce officers’ motivation to enforce booster seat laws.
47
3.5.1.5 Empathy for Parents/Caregivers
Several officers mentioned that empathy for certain types of drivers (e.g., low-income
parents, over-burdened mothers) is often a barrier to writing tickets for violators. Fines become
barriers to officers in writing tickets. Officers indicated they would often rather educate than
persecute parents/caregivers for violating booster laws. Educating officers about the risks
involved to a child who is inappropriately restrained may help reduce this practice.
3.5.2
Strategies to Promote Booster Seat Law Enforcement
Panelists identified several strategies that would promote enforcement of booster seat
laws. Many of these strategies have a publicity and/or educational component, but enforcement
is key in these strategies.
3.5.2.1 Top Management Support
Eliciting support from the top is not a new approach in promoting occupant restraint
enforcement. However, it was a dominant theme by panelists for increasing enforcement of
child restraint and booster seat laws. If the chief of police supports enforcement of booster seat
laws, then the line officers and patrol staff will enforce them. Panelists identified a need to
develop programs that will reach the chiefs of police to support booster seat laws. One panelist
stated that his police chief tells the officers to “work smarter, not harder; spend the 5 minutes to
write the ticket instead of 3 to 4 hours writing a report at the crash scene with dead bodies.”
3.5.2.2 Educating Law Enforcement Personnel
Panelists made the point that many law enforcement officers are unfamiliar with child
restraint systems and the child restraint laws in their States. If officers are educated about CPS
issues, they will increase their involvement in educating the public and enforcing the child
restraint laws. The key recommendation from the brainstorming session was that law
enforcement officers need to be educated about the appropriate child restraint system by age and
weight of a child, as well as the details of the State’s child restraint laws. This concept was so
important to panelists that they strongly recommended that CPS education begin at basic training
at the police academies.
At the department level, it was suggested that a 3- to 4-hour course covering the basics
may be more practical than the 32-hour CPS-certification course for most police departments,
although the 32-hour course would be ideal.
Some panelists suggested making CPS education part of the monthly education
requirement by the police department. Suggestions for in-house training included the use of
videos, computerized training, e-mail reminders, and laminated cards with details of the child
restraint laws for officers to take with them on the street. Inquiries should be made with the
mandatory police enforcement officer training commission (MPEOTC) about including training
that focuses on child passenger safety. Several panelists noted that tools have already been
developed that can be used to teach the basics of proper use. As an example, Partners for Child
48
Passenger Safety has six online videos that are 5 minutes each (in English and in Spanish), and
address restraint use for infants, toddlers, booster-age children, and older children; lower anchors
and tethers, and air bags.3 NHTSA has also developed a roll call video on booster seat use to
reach patrol officers.4
3.5.2.3 Judicial Outreach
Panelists indicated that judges and others in the court system need to understand the
importance of child restraint laws in protecting children, and the risks of allowing children to be
restrained inappropriately. They need to be educated about the appropriate restraint type by
children’s ages and weights. Complaints from law enforcement officers about judges not
understanding child restraint systems or the child restraint laws; admonishing officers for writing
“frivolous” tickets; and reducing fines for fear of constituent disapproval is a barrier to officers
trying to enforce the law.
Seminars, quarterly mandatory meetings, and other training sessions are recommended to
educate judges to ensure better enforcement of the child restraint laws. Panelists highlighted the
importance of convincing the lead judge in each jurisdiction about the importance of child
passenger safety, so it becomes a priority. It was suggested that a video like the one shown
during the brainstorming session of a booster-age child becoming paralyzed following a crash
in which he was restrained using the adult seat belt (with the shoulder belt behind his back)
would be an effective introduction to the topic of appropriate restraint and why laws should
be enforced.5
3.5.2.4 Strengthen Booster Seat Laws
A common complaint among police officers is the restrictions placed on occupant
protection laws when they are secondary law violations. Not only must there be a primary law
violation cited to cite a driver for violating the secondary booster seat law, but the secondary
violation is dismissed if the primary violation is dismissed in court. Thus, panelists agreed that
promoting the enactment of primary booster seat laws would likely increase booster seat use. As
of July 1, 2007, child passenger safety laws are secondary or conditional in 5 States.
Booster seat laws should also follow best practice recommendations. In more than half
of the States with booster seat laws, children under age 8 are considered by law to be
appropriately restrained if they are using only the vehicle seat belts. This legal but inappropriate
restraint type puts these children at risk of injury. Laws that reflect best practice
recommendations will remove the confusion experienced by parents/caregivers when choosing
an appropriate restraint for their children and law enforcement officers when they educate about
and enforce the booster seat law.
3
Available at www.chop.edu/carseat
“Booster Seats—The Missing Link,” available at www.boosterseat.gov.
5
“Boost ‘Em in the Back Seat,” presented by Dr. Kelli Will of Eastern Virginia Medical School, developed on a
grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4
49
Finally, to increase booster seat use, penalties for violations must be stiffer. Panelists
stated that changing behavior is difficult, and that education alone will not increase compliance.
Education coupled with large fines would be more effective.
3.5.2.5 Publicity to Increase Perception of Booster Seat Law Enforcement
More widespread visibility of law enforcement officers was recommended in publicity
that encourages booster seat use. Panelists stated that increasing the presence of law
enforcement agents on billboards, pamphlets, and other material promoting booster seat use and
describing the child restraint law is important. They agreed that billboards and novellas were
more effective when an officer was in the picture than when an officer was not. Also, they stated
that using local officers in ads makes a big impact with the public, by showing them that
enforcement is happening in their community. Cable TV programs interviewing law enforcement
officers on the topic of CPS is another way to reach the community. Using narration by law
enforcement officers in radio and television public service announcements is important. One
officer suggested that using messages to convey the violence of a car crash without actually
showing gore would be effective. His example was “We don’t want to body-bag a 4-year-old.
We’d rather write a ticket,” and the visual component accompanying this message could be a
yellow tarp placed over a small body.
3.5.2.6
Lack of Specificity in Identifying Booster Seat Law Violations on Traffic Citations
In many States, the section of the vehicle code that describes the booster seat law is a
subsection of the vehicle code that describes the child restraint law. In many cases, law
enforcement officers do not write subsection numbers on citations. Therefore, unless the officer
provides written comments on the ticket, it is impossible to distinguish between a child safety
seat law violation and a booster seat law violation. In other words, drivers are cited for violating
the child restraint law, but the specific violation type (child safety seat or booster seat) will not
be coded on the citation (or entered into department data management systems). Similarly in
NHTSA-sponsored seat belt enforcement program blitzes, child restraint law violations are not
specified as child safety seat or booster seat law violations. The practice of grouping child safety
seat and booster seat law violations into a general category of child restraint law violations
makes it difficult, if not impossible, to perform evaluations of the effectiveness of programs to
increase booster seat use (such as increased enforcement of the booster seat law).
3.5.2.7
Community Outreach by Law Enforcement Agents
Community education programs using law enforcement officers to deliver the safety
message is not a new concept, but it is important and needs to continue, according to the
panelists. Their presence in schools and at public events providing education about appropriate
restraint use reinforces both the educational and enforcement components. Panelists suggested
that education checkpoints or mini-cades would be ideal places to educate the public on booster
seat use.
50
3.5.2.8 Messages to Increase Risk Perception of Public
Panelists recommended message concepts that need to be included in law-enforcementrelated publicity and educational programs. Two important concepts to covey are: awareness
of the risks associated with improper restraint use and parental duty to do the right thing. Parents
must be made aware of the risks associated with not using booster seats. Testimonials of
children killed or severely injured, or simulated crash scenes showing injuries that could occur
when children are not using booster seats were identified as possible message components.
Panelists agreed that there is an “immunity fallacy” among parents/caregivers —a reduced
perception of risk—that contributes to nonuse of appropriate restraints. Panelists generally
agreed with the concept that campaigns which are purely informational will not get parents/
caregivers’ attention, because parents/caregivers think these messages don’t apply to them. They
don’t realize the potential for harm when they allow their booster-seat-age children to ride using
adult seat belts; they believe they have done their duty by restraining the child. To get
parents/caregivers’ attention, messages must have an emotional component that shocks them into
doing the right thing. Fear appeals to increase risk perception were supported by many panelists.
Making parents feel guilty for not using booster seats was also a recommended message.
51
4.0 STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF BOOSTER SEAT LAWS
The following list of strategies, which can be categorized as education, enforcement and
legislation, were developed in this project. Although some strategies have been standard
procedure, they continue to be viable.
I. Educational Strategies
The first group of strategies is to educate those parents and caregivers who do not use, or
inconsistently use, booster seats. This approach has the most face validity. The assumption is
that once parents and caregivers know how, when, and why they should use booster seats, they
will properly secure their booster-age children. Each year, more children reach booster seat age,
so the need to educate parents and caregivers remains constant. Efforts to educate parents and
caregivers need to be periodically refreshed to address changing sensibilities, changes in law,
and updated research about child passenger safety. The following educational strategies are
focused on parents/caregivers to increase the effectiveness of booster seat laws.
A. Teach Parents and Caregivers the Best Practices for Properly Securing Booster-Seat-Age
Children.
Parents and caregivers should know the correct age, weight, and height when their child
needs to ride in a booster seat. This includes knowing the specific details of their State’s booster
seat law (including the fine for violating the law), and the differences between what the State
child restraint laws require and what the best practices are for children in this age group.
Many people can educate parents and caregivers about booster seat use. This includes
child safety advocates, car seat technicians, law enforcement officers, emergency service
technicians and health care providers, as well as child safety seat and car manufacturers and
retailers. Look for opportunities with people who work with booster-seat-age children.
Likewise, the settings for educating parents and caregivers also vary and can include
health care facilities, schools, child care centers, car seat inspection stations, car dealerships, law
enforcement agencies, fire departments, and other types of community settings. Posters
presenting best practices (e.g., NHTSA’s 4 Steps for Kids) can be prominently displayed in the
child safety seat department in retail stores and in bulk mail retail flyers. When the State law
meets best practice, specifics of the law should also be posted in retail stores where child safety
and booster seats are sold.
Public messages—both paid media and earned media—can be very effective at
increasing parents/caregivers’ knowledge of booster seat laws. Messages may be disseminated
through radio and television spots, as well as billboards, newspaper articles (unearned media)
and handouts. State licensing agencies can also promote information about their occupant
restraint laws through license renewal letters to drivers; distribution of publications (e.g., driving
manual); and displays on counters at licensing centers.
In communities that are linguistically and culturally isolated, child passenger safety
educators should be culturally and linguistically sensitive to their audience. Health care
52
providers, child safety advocates, and community representatives should make a special effort to
reach these audiences at health care settings, schools and community-oriented centers such as
places of worship and ethnic markets. In addition, mobile car seat inspection stations should plan
events in these communities.
B. Teach Parents and Caregivers About the Risks of Inappropriate Restraint Use.
Many parents have a low sense of risk or operate under an “immunity fallacy.” That is,
they believe that they will never be involved in a crash, and therefore have a general lack of
concern about the potential for injury or death as a result of not restraining or improperly
restraining their children. Increasing risk perception needs to be a priority in program messages.
The assumption is that knowledge about the negative consequences of improperly restraining a
child will deter this behavior, and will prompt parents to want to adequately protect their children.
Messages that appeal to the parents’ “sense of duty to protect their children,” and which
uses social sanctioning to enforce the use of appropriate restraints (e.g., “it’s the right thing to
do”) may motivate parents to properly restrain their booster-seat-age children.
Other leverage points can be car insurance companies, which could apply surcharges to
policies if crash-involved policy holders are cited for being unrestrained or for improperly
restraining their children.
C. Educate Low-Income Parents and Caregivers About Booster Seat Resources in Their
Communities.
Accessibility to booster seats is critical with low-income parents and caregivers. Booster
seat giveaways, low-cost seats, and store coupons should be available. Child safety advocates
and retail stores should collaborate to offer child restraint products in low-income communities.
II. Enforcement Strategies
Potential enforcement strategies to improve effectiveness of booster seat laws encompass
five key topic areas. They are achieving top-management support; training, and educating more
law enforcement personnel; conducting more judicial outreach; enforcing all occupant restraint
laws; and publicizing enforcement activities.
A. Motivate Top Law Enforcement Officials to Strictly Enforce Occupant Restraint Laws.
The first priority is to gain top management support for enforcing occupant restraint laws.
The chiefs of police provide the direction, tone, and energy level necessary to support traffic law
enforcement; and their willingness to engage in this enforcement activity is critical. Agencies
are aware of the grant money that is usually provided to conduct these programs; and
enforcement details usually include officers working overtime and not on agency time. If lack of
grant money is not an issue, but lack of interest in enforcing child restraint laws prevails, then
child safety advocates can make the point that increased traffic stops to enforce child restraint
laws often lead to detection of other violations (drugs, guns, etc).
53
B. Train Law Enforcement Officers about Child Passenger Safety Issues
Many law enforcement officers are hesitant to enforce child restraint laws and educate
parents/caregivers about child restraints because they do not know which restraint type is
appropriate for which age/weight child and how restraints should be used. They also generally
have only a vague understanding of the child restraint laws in their State. The assumption
underlying this strategy is that if officers were trained in CPS issues, then they would have the
confidence and be more likely to enforce the child restraint laws. Therefore, it is recommended
that a 3- to 4-hour course that presents the basics of child occupant protection be included in
basic training at the police academies.
Ideally, all law enforcement officers should take the 32-hour CPS certification course.
However, this is not practical for basic training or for law enforcement departments. However,
police departments can train their officers in child passenger safety issues in other ways. For
example, training may be provided through videos (e.g., NHTSA’s roll-call video for booster
seats), computerized training, email reminders, and laminated cards with details of the child
restraint laws on one side and appropriate restraints by age and weight on the other side for
reference during traffic stops. NHTSA is presently developing a curriculum to train law
enforcement personnel with occupant protection issues relevant to their daily activities. The
Traffic Occupant Protection Strategies (TOPS) curriculum is a one-day (4- to 8-hour) block of
instruction that will provide road officers and line supervisors with the information they need to
effectively assess and act on occupant protection issues at roadside. There is a component in the
curriculum on child safety seats and booster seats.
C. Train Judges About Child Passenger Safety Issues.
Judicial outreach is also critical. Law enforcement officers in the focus groups reported
that many judges are unfamiliar with child restraint laws or think they are trivial. Educating
local magistrates and other members of the judiciary is recommended to enhance their
understanding of child passenger safety issues, including the specifics of the booster seat law in
their States. This education could be provided during their annual training sessions. In addition,
38 States or Territories currently have Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutors (TSRPs) who provide
guidance in traffic safety and the prosecution of traffic related issues, such as impaired driving.
Similar to education and training for law enforcement agents, it is recommended that the TSRPs
and other prosecutors be formally trained in CPS issues.
D. Vigorously Enforce Child Passenger Safety Laws.
Highly visible enforcement of child restraint laws is critical to deter parents and
caregivers from improperly restraining their children. This type of enforcement needs to
continue. In most cases, grant money must be offered for enforcement of occupant restraint
laws, since most of the staff resources are provided on personnel overtime, not agency budget.
States with secondary occupant restraint laws need to rely on the most effective methods to
enforce these laws. In many cases, roving patrols are the most effective means of identifying
primary offense violators, providing the opportunity to cite drivers for observed secondary
54
occupant restraint violations. Publicity surrounding these enforcement activities is also
important. At a minimum, reporting weekly or monthly occupant restraint violations in the
“Police News” section of the local newspaper may improve public perception that enforcement is
occurring.
Law enforcement officers should also enforce seat belt laws. Higher percentages of
children are restrained when the drivers transporting them are belted (Glassbrenner & Ye, 2007;
Decina & Lococo, 2004).
E. Collect Appropriate Enforcement Data to Refine Enforcement Efforts.
Every law enforcement agency has its own method of collecting and analyzing data
related to crashes, fatalities, and enforcement. However, there is a need for law enforcement
agencies to identify the specific violation of a child restraint law when citations are written for
these violations. In many cases, officers record the section number of the child safety seat law,
but not the subsection of the vehicle code that is needed to discriminate whether the infraction
was a child safety seat or a booster seat violation. Consistent record keeping and data
management of child safety seat law and the booster seat law violations is critical to properly
evaluate the effectiveness of booster seat laws.
It is also recommended that law enforcement officers be included in the publicity
promoting booster seat laws and best practices for these children. Their presence on billboards,
pamphlets, cable television programs, radio programs, and public service announcements is
critical to reinforce to the public that using appropriate child restraints is important for children’s
safety, it is the law, and it will be enforced. Because of the belief that many parents/caregivers
operate under an “immunity fallacy,” it is recommended that law enforcement messages also
convey the risks of allowing children to ride without being appropriately restrained. A fear
appeal presented by law enforcement officials may be the best way to get the attention of those
who don’t realize they are doing anything dangerous by allowing their child passengers to be
either unrestrained or inappropriately secured in a seat belt.
III. Legislation
A final recommendation is to continue to apply pressure on legislators to promote booster
seat laws in States that do not currently have them; promote “stronger” booster seat laws; and
promote primary enforcement of seat belt laws. This study showed that passage of a booster seat
law increases child safety seat and booster seat use. To strengthen these laws, there is a need to
increase the age, and height limits in the booster seat provisions of the child restraint law in
many States (e.g., at least to 8 years old and 4’ 9” tall). The study found that there are some
misperceptions by parents/caregivers that the State law represents the best practice; therefore if
they follow the law, their children are safely secured. However, the booster seat laws do not
represent best practice in all States.
A few States also have the booster seat provision as a secondary violation. This makes it
more difficult to enforce the booster seat laws, since the driver must first be pulled over for a
primary violation. In addition, if the primary violation is dismissed by the court, the booster seat
55
violation gets dismissed as well. This is often very frustrating for law enforcement and
discourages future enforcement of the booster seat laws.
Finally, there is a need to continue pressure on legislatures to push for primary seat belt
laws. Seat belt use rates are higher in States with primary seat belt laws (Glassbrenner & Ye,
2006); and children are more likely to be restrained when drivers are buckled (Glassbrenner &
Ye, 2007; Decina & Lococo, 2004). This legislative action alone could have significant positive
outcomes for increasing booster seat use.
56
REFERENCES
Agran, P.F., Anderson, C.L., & Winn, D.G. (2004). “Violators of a Child Passenger Law.”
Pediatrics, Vol. 114(1), pp. 109-115.
Boyle, J. M., & Vanderwolf, P. (2005). 2003 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey. NHTSA
Publication DOT HS 809 858. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006). Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and
Reporting System. Available from URL:www.cdc/ncipc/wisqars. Reported in “Child Passenger
Safety Fact Sheet. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/childpas.htm.
Decina, L. E., & Lococo, K. (2004). Misuse of Child Restraints. USDOT/NHTSA Publication
DOT HS 809 671. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Decina, L.E., Lococo, K., & Block, A. (2005). Misuse of Child Restraints: Results of a
Workshop to Review Field Data Results. Traffic Safety Facts – Research Note. DOT HS 809
851. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Durbin, D.R., Kallan, M.J., & Winston, F.K. (2001). “Trends in Booster Seat Use Among Young
Children in Crashes.” Pediatrics. 108, 6.
Durbin, D.R., Elliott, M., & Winston, F.K. (2003). “Belt-Positioning Booster Seats and
Reduction in Risk of Injury Among Children in Vehicle Crashes.” Journal of the American
Medical Association, 280(23), 2835-2840.
Ebel, B.E., Koepsell, T.D., Bennett, E.E., & Rivara, F.P. (2003). “Too Small for a Seatbelt:
Predictors of Booster Seat Use by Child Passengers.” Pediatrics, 111(94), e323-e327.
Eby, D.A., Bingham, C.R., Vivoda, J.M., and Ragunathan, T. (2005). “Use of Booster Seats by
Michigan Children 4-8 Years of Age.” Accident Analysis and Prevention, 37, 1153-1161.
Ehiri, J., King, W., Ejere, H., and Mouzon, P. (2006). Effects of Interventions to Increase Use of
Booster Seats in Motor Vehicles for 4-8 Year Olds. Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for
Traffic Safety.
Glassbrenner, D., & Ye, T. (2007). Child Restraint Use in 2006 – Overall Results. Traffic
Safety Facts Research Note, DOT HS 810 737, Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration.
Gunn, V.L., Phillippi, R.M., & Cooper, W.O. (2007). “Improvement in Booster Seat Use in
Tennessee.” Pediatrics, 119, 131-136.
IIHS. (2007). Child Restraint, Belt Laws as of July 2007. Available at
www.iihs.org/laws/state_laws/restrain.html.
57
NHTSA. (2002). A National Strategy: Increasing Booster Seat Use for 4- to 8-Year-Old
Children. DOT HS 809 515. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NHTSA. (2002). Improving the Safety of Child Restraints: Booster Seat Study. October 2002
Report to Congress. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NHTSA. (2005). Child Passenger Fatalities and Injuries, Based on Restraint Use, Vehicle Type,
Seat Position, and Number of Vehicles in the Crash. Publication No. DOT HS 809 784.
Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NHTSA. (2005). State Legislative Activities: State Booster Seat Use Requirements in the U.S.
Washington, DC National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NHTSA. (2006). Traffic Safety Facts 2005 Data: Occupant Protection. NHTSA Publication No.
DOT HS 810 621. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NHTSA (2007). Preliminary Data Indicate That Booster Seat Laws Increase Child Safety Seat Use.
Traffic Safety Facts. Traffic Tech, 331. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration.
NHTSA. (2007). State Legislative Activities: State Booster Seat Use Requirements in the United
States. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Partners for Child Passenger Safety (2005). Fact and Trend Report – October 2005.
Raymond, P.D., Seifert, R.F., Golembiewski, G., & Knoblauch, R. (2004). Changes in Child
Occupant Protection Laws: A Process and Outcomes Evaluation. Unpublished report. NHTSA.
Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Ramsey, A., Simpson, E., and Rivara, F.R. (2000). “Booster Seat Use and Reasons for Nonuse.”
Pediatrics, 106(2), e20.
Safe Kids Worldwide. (2007). Summary of Child Booster Seat Laws. Fact Sheet.
Starnes, M. (2003). The Relationship between Driver and Child Passenger Restraint Use among
Fatally Injured Child Passengers Age 0-15. NHSTA. NCSA Research Note. DOT HS 809 558.
Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Stehr, S. D., & Lovrich, N. (2003). An Assessment of Child Car Booster Seat Usage in the State
of Washington. Pullman, WA: Washington State University.
Stewart, D.D., Lang, N.J., & Emery, S. (2005). LATCH (Latch Anchors and Tethers for Child
Restraints) 2005. Seattle, WA: Safe Ride News Publications.
ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation. (2007). Boost 'Em Up—A Community
Demonstration Program to Increase Booster Seat Use Among Older Children. November
2006. NHTSA Contract No. DTNH22-03-H-05154. LaGrange, IL: ThinkFirst National Injury
Prevention Foundation. Available at http://boostemup.com/index.html
58
Will, K.E., Sabo, C.S., & Porter, B.E. (2007). “Using Fear and Efficacy to Increase BoosterSeat Use: A Field Test of a High-Threat Message.” Presentation at the APHA 135th Annual
Meeting and Expo, November 3-7, Washington, DC.
Will, K.E. (2005). Child Passenger Safety and the Immunity Fallacy: Why What We Are Doing
Is Not Working.” Accident Analysis and Prevention, 37, 947-955.
Winston, F.K., Kallan, M.J., Elliott, M.R., Xie, D., & Durbin, D.R. (2007). “Effect of Booster
Seat Laws on Appropriate Restraint Use by Children 4 to 7 Years Old Involved in Crashes.”
Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 161, 270-275.
Winston, F.K., Moll, E.K., Durbin, D.R., & Kassam-Adams, N. (2001).
The Premature Graduation of Children From Child Restraints to Vehicle Safety Belts.
NHTSA Publication DOT HS 809 259. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration.
59
APPENDIX A: Booster Seat Definitions and Types
A booster seat is a platform or specially designed seat that elevates the child such that the vehicle
seat belt properly fits the child. The seat belt restrains the child in a crash. Booster seats are
designed for children who have outgrown child restraint systems at 40 lbs. and are not large
enough for a vehicle seat belt. Children should use a belt positioning booster seat until they are
at least 8 years old or 4’9” tall. The three basic types—belt-positioning booster, combination
child restraint, and shield booster—are described below, using definitions provided by Stewart,
Lang, and Emery (2005):
• The belt-positioning booster (BPB) raises the child so the
vehicle lap and shoulder belts fit better. The vehicle belts
actually restrain the child. A BPB may be a low, backless
booster or may have a high back that provides head
restraint and some support for the child while sleeping.
Backless Belt-Positioning
Booster Seat.
High-Back Belt-Positioning
Booster Seat.
• The combination child restraint is a forward-facing child restraint
system that can be transformed into a belt-positioning booster by removing
the harness.
• The shield booster is a platform with a wrap-around shield. It is for a child
who weighs between 30 and 40 pounds. This type of booster seat is not
recommended for use. Children of this weight should be in a forward-facing
child restraint system with a harness.
Combination
Child Restraint.
Shield Booster Seat.
Graphics: A Guidebook for Observing Occupant Restraint System Use and Misuse. (AAAFTS, 2005).
www.aafoundation.org/pdf/restraintguidebook.pdf and Are You Using it Right? (NHTSA, 2004; DOT HS 809 245)
www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/AreYouUsing/pages/FFSeatYES.htm
60
APPENDIX B:
Inventory of State Child Occupant Protection Laws and Seat Belt Laws
(As of June 2007)
61
ALABAMA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Alabama CPS law covers children through age 15. Rear-facing child restraints are
required for infants until at least one year of age or 20 pounds. Forward-facing restraints
are required until the child is at least five years of age or 40 pounds. Booster seats are
required until the child is six years of age. Use of a child restraint or seat belt is required
for children through age 15.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
39
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
Yes
Yes
CPS Law Exemptions
Applies only to passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans with a seating capacity of 10 or less,
minivans, and sports utility vehicles. Does not apply to taxis and all motor vehicles with a
seating capacity of 11 or more passengers.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and front-seat passengers must be restrained. Rear-seat passengers age 16 and
older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Driver or occupant whose physical or medical condition prevents using a seat belt;
Newspaper delivery people and rural letter carriers; People riding in pre-1965 vehicles;
Passengers riding in vehicles that normally operate in reverse.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
62
ALASKA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Alaska CPS law covers children through age 15. Children less than age 4 must be in a
child restraint. Children ages 4 through 15 must be restrained by either a child restraint,
booster seat or seat belt, whichever is appropriate for the particular child.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
3
Na
na
No
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 4
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
Yes
Yes
No
CPS Law Exemptions
School buses not equipped with seat belts, emergency vehicles, mail and newspaper
carriers, people with physical or medical conditions which make use of a seat belt
impractical, vehicles not equipped with seat belts.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
All drivers and passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
15
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
School buses not equipped with seat belts; emergency vehicles; mail and newspaper
carriers; people with physical or medical conditions which make use of a seat belt
impractical; vehicles not equipped with seat belts.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
63
ARIZONA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Arizona CPS law covers children through age 4. Children less than age 5 must be in a
child restraint in the front or back seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
4
na
na
No
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 5
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles manufactured without seat belts; recreational vehicles; commercial motor
vehicles; transporting a child in an emergency to obtain medical care; if transporting
more than one child in a vehicle and as many child restraints as is possible are already
installed.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
All front-seat passengers in vehicles designed to carry fewer than 10 passengers are
required to use a lap and shoulder belt (if one is available) or just a lap belt.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles designed to carry 10 or more passengers; vehicles manufactured prior to model
year 1972; vehicles not equipped with seat belts; physician certified medical or
psychological reasons not to wear a seat belt; U.S. postal service letter carriers while
performing duties.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
64
ARKANSAS
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Arkansas CPS law covers children through age 14. Children less than age 6 and less
than 60 pounds must be in a child restraint. Children may be restrained by a seat belt at
age 6 or 60 pounds, whichever comes first. Use of a child restraint or seat belt is required
for children through age 14.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
59
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6 or 60 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
100
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles for hire; emergency vehicles; emergency situations; children who are
physically unable to be restrained because of medical reasons.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and front-seat passengers must be restrained. Rear-seat passengers age 15 and
older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to have seat belts; physician certified physical disabilities; rural
letter carriers.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: All people are prohibited from riding in the back of a pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
65
CALIFORNIA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The California CPS law covers children through age 15. Children must be properly
secured in the back seat in a child restraint until they are at least 6 years old or 60 pounds.
Children who are at least 6 years old or weigh at least 60 pounds may be restrained by a
properly fitted seat belt. Use of a child restraint or seat belt is required for children
through age 15.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
59
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6 or 60 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
100
Yes
Yes
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Court may exempt child from use of a child restraint requirement if it is determined that
the use of a child restraint would be impractical by reason of physical unfitness, medical
condition, or size; Children may be secured by a seat belt in case of a life-threatening
emergency or when a child is being transported in an authorized emergency vehicle, if
there is no child restraint available and the child is at least 1 year of age.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
All drivers and passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
20
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Taxicabs; certified physical or mental conditions; emergency vehicle passengers behind
the front seat; newspaper and rural postal carriers; passengers over 16 using a "sleeper
berth." Drivers of limousines for hire or an emergency vehicle must be restrained, but
rear-seat occupants are exempt.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting any person in or on the back of a pickup or
flatbed motor truck. People riding in or on the back of the truck also can be cited.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
66
COLORADO
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Colorado CPS law covers children through age 15. Children less than 1 year of age
and less than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing child restraint. Children 1-3 years old
who weigh 20-39 pounds must be in a forward-facing child restraint. Children 4-5 years
old and less than 55 inches tall must be in a child restraint or booster seat. Children 6-15
years old or at least 55 inches tall must be in a child restraint or seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
40
54
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6 or 55 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary for children less than age 4 and age 6-15. Secondary for children 4-5 years old
required to be in a booster.
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
No
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Children being transported in a medical emergency; children are being transported in a
motor vehicle built to commercial standards such as a school bus; vehicles not privately
owned.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and front-seat passengers must be restrained. Rear-seat passengers age 16 and
older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
15
Yes
Yes if less than 17
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Members of ambulance teams involved in patient care; Police officers performing duties;
Physician certified physical or psychological disabling condition; Vehicles not required to
be equipped with seat belts; Rural letter carriers; Commercial vehicles; Residential
delivery or pickup service vehicles.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: All people are prohibited from riding in the back of a pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
67
CONNECTICUT
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Connecticut CPS law covers children through age 15. Children less than age 1 or less
than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing child restraint. Children ages 1-6 or 20-59 pounds
must be in a child restraint or booster seat. Use of a child restraint or seat belt is required
for children through age 15. Children less than age 4 must be in the back seat unless the
vehicle does not have a back seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
6
59
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 7 and 60 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
60
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Bus having a tonnage rating of one ton or more.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all front-seat passengers must be restrained. Rear-seat passengers age 16 and
older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
15
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Newspaper and postal carriers; emergency vehicles.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: People younger than age 16 are prohibited from riding in the back of a pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
68
DELAWARE
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Delaware CPS law covers children through age 15. Children less than age 15, in
either the front or rear seat, must be restrained. Children less than age 7 and less than 60
pounds must be in a child restraint or booster seat. Children who are at least age 7 or at
least 60 pounds must be restrained by either a child restraint, booster seat or seat belt.
Children less than 12 years old and less than 66 inches tall must be in the rear seat if the
vehicle has an active passenger side air bag not designed specifically for children and
small adults.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
6
59
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 7 or 60 pounds
Enforcement Type
Secondary for rear-seat requirements. Primary for all other violations.
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
29
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Physical disabilities or medical reasons; vehicles not required to be equipped with belts;
letter carriers.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
All drivers and passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Physician- or physical-therapist-certified condition prohibiting use; vehicle not required
to be equipped with seat belts; U.S. Postal Service carriers while performing duties.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
69
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The District of Columbia CPS law covers children through age 15. Children less than age
8 must be in a child restraint. Children ages 8-15 must be restrained by either a child
restraint, booster seat or seat belt. Children must be in the rear seat if unrestrained due to
not having a seat belt available.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
na
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
75
No
Yes
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Parents or legal guardians may transport their own children without restraint if their other
children under 16 are using all the available seat belts, but the unrestrained child may not
be in the front seat of the vehicle.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
All drivers and passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
No
Yes
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Physician-certified condition preventing use; When all seat belts are in use by others, but
the driver must insure that children 16 and under have preference to a seating position
with seat belts over people over the age of 16.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: All people are prohibited from riding in the back of a pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
70
FLORIDA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Florida CPS law covers children through age 5. Children less than age 4 must be in a
child restraint. Children ages 4 and 5 must be in a child restraint or seat belt. Children ages
6-17 are covered by the Florida Seat Belt Law and must be restrained in either the front or
rear seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
3
na
na
No
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 4
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
60
Yes
Yes
Yes
CPS Law Exemptions
School buses (not including common carriers in the urban transportation of school
children); buses used to transport people for compensation; farm tractors or other farm
equipment; trucks weighing more than 5,000 pounds; motorcycles, mopeds, and
bicycles.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
All front-seat occupants must buckle up, regardless of age. Rear-seat occupants less than
age 18 must also be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary: For passengers less than age 18; Secondary: Driver and front-seat passengers
age 18 and older.
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
30
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Physical or medical condition preventing seat belt use; newspaper carriers; solid waste or
recyclable collection service employees in course of duties; occupants of the living
quarters of a recreational vehicle; occupants in the front of a pickup truck when all
available restraints are in use by others.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 18 in or on the back
of a pickup or flatbed.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
71
GEORGIA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Georgia CPS law covers children through age 5. Children less than age 6 and less
than 57 inches tall must be in a child restraint. Children 57" or taller may be in a seat belt.
Children less than age 6 must be in the rear seat if a rear-seat position is available.
Children ages 6-17 are covered by the Georgia Seat Belt Law and must be restrained in
either the front or rear seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
na
57
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6 or 57 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
No
Yes
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Taxicabs; public transit vehicles; certain multifunctional-school-activities-buses are also
exempt for 5-year-old children; certain licensed childcare facility vans.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
All front-seat occupants must buckle up, regardless of age. Rear-seat occupants less than
age 18 must also be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
15
No
Yes
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
If at age 18 or older: vehicles making frequent delivery stops; physical or medical
condition preventing use of a seat belt; rural letter carriers; newspaper deliveries;
vehicles operated in reverse; vehicles with a model year prior to 1965 or vehicles not
required to have seat belts; emergency vehicles.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 18 in or on the back
of a pickup or flatbed.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
72
HAWAII
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Hawaii CPS law covers children through age 7. Children less than age 4 must be in a
child restraint. Children less than age 8 and less than 4'9" tall must be in a child restraint
or booster seat. Children ages 8-17 are covered by the Hawaii Seat Belt Law and must be
restrained in either the front or rear seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
na
57
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8 or 58 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
100
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Emergency vehicles; commercial vehicles; mass transit vehicles; if the number of people
in a vehicle exceeds the number of seat belts in the vehicle.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all front-seat passengers must be restrained by seat belts. Children ages 8-17
must use seat belts in rear seating positions.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
45
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Emergency vehicles; mass transit vehicles; vehicles not required to be equipped with seat
belts; there are more people than seat belts and all seat belts are being used; conditions
which prevent restraint by the seat belt; taxi drivers.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: All people are prohibited from riding in the back of a pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
73
IDAHO
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Idaho CPS law covers children through age 6. Children less than age 7, in either the
front or rear seat, must be restrained in a child restraint.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
6
na
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 7
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
100
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
If all seat belts are in use; If being held for nursing or attending to other immediate
physiological needs.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Physician-certified condition; motorcycles; farm vehicles; emergency vehicles; if all
available front seat belts are in use; mail carriers.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
74
ILLINOIS
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Illinois CPS law covers children through age 15. Children less than age 8 must be in a
child restraint or booster seat. Children weighing more than 40 pounds may use a lap belt
in the rear seat if the vehicle is not equipped with a lap and shoulder seat belt. Children
ages 8-15 must be restrained by either a child restraint, booster seat, or seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
na
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
No
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Commercial motor vehicle; vehicles with gross vehicle weight ratings more than 9,000
pounds.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and front-seat passengers must be restrained. All passengers of a driver less than
age 18 must be restrained. Rear-seat passengers ages 16 and older are not required to be
restrained if the driver is age 18 or older.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Delivery vehicles making frequent stops or delivering from the vehicle and the speed of
the vehicle between stops does not exceed 15 mph; physician statement that the person is
unable to wear a seat belt; official documentation from another state that the person is
unable to wear a seat belt; vehicle being operated in reverse; vehicle with a model year
prior to 1965; motorcycles, motor driven cycles, or motorized pedalcycles; vehicle which
is not required to be equipped with seat belts; rural letter carriers.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
75
INDIANA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Indiana CPS law covers children through age 15. If the driver has an Indiana driver
license: Children less than age 8 must be in a child restraint or booster. Children ages 8-15
must be restrained by either a child restraint, booster seat or seat belt. If the driver does
not have an Indiana driver license: Children less than age 16 may be restrained by either a
child restraint or a seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
na
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
Yes
No
CPS Law Exemptions
School bus; taxicab; ambulance; public passenger bus; vehicle with a capacity greater than
9 individuals and is owned or leased and operated by a religious or nonprofit youth
organization; antique motor vehicle; motorcycle; law enforcement vehicle while
performing duties; emergency situations.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and front-seat passengers must be restrained. Rear-seat passengers ages 16 and
older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Medical conditions; commercial or Postal Service vehicle that makes frequent stops; rural
carriers while on route; newspaper motor route carrier or hauler making frequent stops;
driver examiner while conducting a driving text.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
76
IOWA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Iowa CPS law covers children through age 10. Children less than age 1 and who
weigh less than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing child restraint. Children ages 1-5 must
be in a child restraint. Children ages 6-10 must be in a child restraint or seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
na
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Physician-certified medical, physical, or mental disabilities; school bus; motorcycles;
vehicles manufactured before 1966; emergency vehicles; peace officers on official duty;
children in motor homes and not riding in the front passenger seat.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and front-seat passengers must be restrained. Rear-seat passengers ages 11 and
older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles manufactured before 1966; work vehicles requiring occupants to get in and out
frequently, provided they don't exceed 25 mph between stops; rural letter carriers making
deliveries; buses; doctor certificate stating reason for non-use and expiration date;
passengers (not drivers) in emergency vehicles during an emergency trip; vans, trucks,
buses and multipurpose vehicles manufactured before 1972; people in the front seat of
motor vehicles primarily used by handicapped people who utilize collapsible wheelchairs.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
77
KANSAS
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Kansas CPS law covers children through age 13. Children less than 4 years of age
must be restrained in a child restraint. Children 4-7 who are less than 80 pounds and less
than 57" tall must be restrained by a child restraint; children 8-13 years old must be
restrained by a child restraint or seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
79
56
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8 or 80 pounds or 57 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
20
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles designed for carrying more than 10 passengers; if the number of children ages 4 13 exceeds the number of seat belts and belts are in use by children.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and front-seat passengers must be restrained. Rear-seat passengers ages 14 and
older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
10
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to be equipped with seat belts; vehicles designed for carrying more
than 10 passengers; vehicles constructed on a truck chassis registered for more than
12,000 pounds; farm trucks registered for more than 16,000 pounds; motorcycles and
trailers; occupants who possess a written statement from a licensed physician; mail
carriers while engaged in delivery and collection of mail; newspaper carriers engaged in
newspaper delivery.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 14 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
78
KENTUCKY
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Kentucky CPS law does not specify the children’s ages. Children 40 inches tall or
less must be restrained in a child restraint.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
na
na
40
No
Seat Belt Allowed
41 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to have belts; farm trucks
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
All drivers and passengers over 40 inches tall must be restrained by a seat belt.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to have belts; farm trucks; medical or physical conditions
preventing use of a seat belt; letter carriers while performing duties
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
79
LOUISIANA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Louisiana CPS law covers children through age 12. Children younger than 1 year of
age or less than 20 pounds must be in rear-facing child restraints. Children ages 1-3 or
who weigh 20-39 pounds must be in forward-facing child restraints. Children who are 4-5
years old or who weigh 40-60 pounds must be in booster seats. Children ages 6-12 must
be in a child restraint or seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
60
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6 and 61 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Truck capacity of over 2000 pounds; ambulance or other emergency vehicle; school bus;
church bus, private bus, or recreational vehicle which has a passenger capacity of over 10
people; or commercial truck, van, or taxi; if vehicle is being used as an ambulance or
other emergency vehicle; emergencies; unable to be restrained because of medical
reasons.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and front-seat passengers must be restrained when the vehicle is in forward
motion. Rear-seat passengers ages 13 and older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Conditional
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Rural letter carriers; some farm vehicles; newspaper delivery people; some utility
workers; physically or mentally disabling conditions preventing belt use.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 12 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
80
MAINE
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Maine CPS law covers children through age 17. Children less than 40 pounds and less
than age 4 must be in a child restraint. Children at least 40-79 pounds and less than age 8
must be in a child restraint or booster. Children less than age 12 and less than 100 pounds
must be in the back seat whenever possible.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
79
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8 or 80 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
62
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to be equipped with seat belts; if all seating positions are occupied.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Yes
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
62
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to be equipped with seat belts; if all seating positions are occupied;
medical conditions.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 19 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
81
MARYLAND
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Maryland CPS law covers children through age 15. Children under the age of 6 or
weighing less than 40 pounds must be in a child restraint. Children ages 6-15 are required
to be in a child restraint or seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
40
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6 and 40 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
If use of a child safety seat by a particular child would be impractical due to the child's
weight, physical unfitness, or other medical reason; if the number of children subject to
the provisions of this section exceeds the number of passenger securing locations suitable
for securing a child either in a seat belt or in a child safety seat in accordance with this
section, and all of those securing locations are in use by children.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and front-seat passengers next to the door are required to wear seat belts.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
unk
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
People who cannot use a seat belt for physical or medical reasons; U.S. Postal Service
carriers or contractors delivering mail; historic vehicles 20 years old or older.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 16 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
82
MASSACHUSETTS
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Massachusetts CPS law covers children through age 12. Children under 5 years of age
and weighing less than 40 pounds must be in a child restraint. Children ages 5-12 must be
in a child restraint or seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
4
40
na
No
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 5 or 40 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
(1) Riding as a passenger in a school bus; (2) riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle
made before July 1, 1966, that is not equipped with seat belts; (3) physically unable to use
either a conventional child passenger restraint or a child restraint specifically designed for
children with special needs; provided, however, that such condition is duly certified in
writing by a physician who shall state the nature of the disability as well as the reasons
such restraints are inappropriate; provided, further, that no such certifying physician shall
be subject to liability in a civil action for the issuance of or for the failure to issue such
certificate.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
This provision shall not apply to:
(a) any child less than 12 years of age who is subject to the provisions of section seven
AA;
(b) any person riding in a motor vehicle manufactured before July 1, 1966;
(c) any person who is physically unable to use seat belts; provided, however, that such
condition is duly certified by a physician who shall state the nature of the handicap, as
well as the reasons such restraint is inappropriate; provided, further, that no such
physician shall be subject to liability in any civil action for the issuance or for the failure
to issue such certificate;
(d) any rural carrier of the United States Postal Service operating a motor vehicle while in
the performance of his duties; provided, however, that such rural mail carrier shall be
subject to department regulations regarding the use of seat belts or occupant crash
protection devices;
(e) anyone involved in the operation of taxis, liveries, tractors, trucks with gross weight of
eighteen thousand pounds or over, buses, and passengers of authorized emergency
vehicles.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 12 in the back of a
pickup truck.
83
MASSACHUSETTS
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
84
MICHIGAN
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Michigan CPS law covers children through age 3. Children under the age of 4 must
be in a child restraint system. Children ages 4-15 are covered by the Michigan Seat Belt
Law and must be restrained in either the front or rear seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
3
na
na
No
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 4
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
10
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Children being nursed; does not apply if the motor vehicle being driven is a bus, school
bus, taxicab, moped, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle not required to be equipped with
seat belts under federal law or regulations.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all front-seat occupants must wear seat belts. Safety belts must be worn by
back seat passengers ages 4-15.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to be equipped with seat belts; individuals unable to use belts for
physical or medical reasons (with written verification from a physician); commercial or
postal delivery vehicles; when there are more passengers than available seat belts.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 18 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
85
MINNESOTA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Minnesota CPS law covers children through age 3. Children less than age 4 must be
in a child restraint in the front or back seat. Children ages 4-10 are covered by the
Minnesota Seat Belt Law and must be restrained in either the front or rear seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
3
na
na
No
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 4
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to have belts; emergency vehicles; police officers; vehicles for
hire; children with medical conditions that prevent them from safely using a system.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by all front-seat occupants. Seat belts must be worn by back seat
passengers ages 4-10.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
A person driving a passenger vehicle in reverse; a person riding in a seat in which all the
seating positions equipped with seat belts are occupied by other people; a person who is
in possession of a written certificate from a licensed physician verifying that because of
medical unfitness or physical disability the person is unable to wear a seat belt; a person
who is actually engaged in work that requires the person to emerge from and re-enter a
passenger vehicle at frequent intervals and who, while engaged in that work, does not
drive or travel in that vehicle at a speed exceeding 25 miles per hour; a rural mail carrier
of the United States Postal Service while in the performance of duties; a person driving or
riding in a passenger vehicle manufactured before January 1, 1965; a person driving or
riding in a pickup truck while engaged in normal farming work or activity.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
86
MISSISSIPPI
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Mississippi CPS law covers children through age 7. Children less than age 8 must be
restrained in the front or rear seat. Any child under the age of 4 must be in a child
restraint.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
3
na
na
No
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 4
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to be equipped with seat belts; farm vehicles; unable to wear a seat
belt system for medical reasons; rural letter carriers; utility meter readers; buses.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to be equipped with seat belts; farm vehicles; unable to wear a seat
belt system for medical reasons; rural letter carriers; utility meter readers; buses.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
87
MISSOURI
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Missouri CPS law covers children through age 15. Children less than age 4 or less
than 40 pounds must be in a child restraint. Children ages 4-7 who weigh at least 40
pounds must be in a child restraint or booster seat unless they are 80 pounds or 4'9" tall.
Children 8 and over or weighing at least 80 pounds or at least 4’9” tall are required to be
in a booster seat. or seat belt Use of a child restraint or seat belt is required for children
through age 15.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
79
56
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
When transporting children in the immediate family when there are more children than
there are seating positions in the enclosed area of a motor vehicle, the children who are
not able to be restrained by a child safety restraint device appropriate for the child shall sit
in the area behind the front seat of the motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is designed
only for a front-seat area. The driver transporting children under this scenario shall not be
in violation of the child seat restriction law. Does not apply to public carriers for hire or
to students four years of age or older who are passengers on a school bus designed for
carrying eleven passengers or more and which is manufactured or equipped pursuant to
Missouri Minimum Standards for School Buses.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants. Rear-seat passengers ages
16 and older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
10
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Unknown
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 18 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
88
MONTANA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Montana CPS law covers children through age 5. Children less than age 6 and less
than 60 pounds must be in a child restraint.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
59
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6 or 60 pounds
Enforcement Type
Secondary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
100
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Children who because of a physical or medical condition or body size cannot be placed in
a child safety restraint.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
20
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
An occupant of a motor vehicle who possesses a written statement from a licensed
physician that the occupant is unable to wear a seatbelt for medical reasons; if all seatbelts
are being used by other occupants; operator of a motorcycle or a motor-driven cycle;
occupant of a vehicle licensed as special mobile equipment; an occupant who makes
frequent stops with a motor vehicle during official job duties. Is not applicable to a
vehicle that is a motorbus, school bus, taxicab, moped, quadricycle, or motorcycle or is
not required to be equipped with seat belts under 49 CFR 571 as it reads on January 1,
1984; or has a seating capacity as designated by the manufacturer of two people and there
are two people 4 years of age or older in the vehicle.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
89
NEBRASKA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Nebraska CPS law covers children through age 17. Children less than age 6 must be
properly restrained in a child restraint. Children ages 6-17 must be in a child restraint or
seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
na
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
Yes
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Exceptions include: taxis; mopeds and motorcycles; motor vehicles 1963 model or earlier,
not equipped with an occupant protection system; signed, written statement from
physician stating restraint system would be harmful; authorized emergency vehicles
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Driver and front-seat passengers must use an occupant protection system. All people
transported in a motor vehicle operated by a holder of a provisional operator's permit or a
school permit must use an occupant protection system.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
A person who possesses written verification from a physician that the person is unable to
wear an occupant protection system for medical reasons; a rural letter carrier of the United
States Postal Service while performing his or her duties as a rural letter carrier between
the first and last delivery points; and a member of an emergency medical service while
involved in patient care. For purposes of this section, motor vehicle shall mean a vehicle
required by section 60-6,266 to be equipped with an occupant protection system.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 18 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
90
NEVADA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Nevada CPS law covers children through age 5. Children less than age 6 and 60
pounds or less must be in a child restraint.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
60
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6 or 61 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
500
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to have belts; taxicabs
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
unk
unk
unk
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles with an unladed weight of 6,000 pounds or more.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 18 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
91
NEW HAMPSHIRE
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The New Hampshire CPS law covers children through age 17. Children less than age 6
and less than 55 inches tall must be restrained in a child restraint. Children ages 6-17 or
who are 55 inches or taller are required to be in a seat belt or booster seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
na
54
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6 or 55 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
Yes
No
CPS Law Exemptions
A person shall not be guilty of a violation of this section if the motor vehicle the person is
driving is regularly used to transport passengers for hire, is a school bus weighing more
than 10,000 pounds or is a school bus weighing less than 10,000 pounds that was
manufactured without seat belts, or there is an individual education plan statement
contraindicating the use of restraints, is a vehicle manufactured before 1968, is a
motorcycle as defined in RSA 259:63, is an antique motor car or motorcycle as defined in
RSA 259:4, or is being operated in a parade authorized by law or ordinance, provided that
the parade vehicle is traveling at a speed of no more than 10 miles per hour.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
No requirements for drivers or occupants age 18 or older to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
na
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
0
na
na
na
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
na
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
92
NEW JERSEY
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The New Jersey CPS law covers children through age 17. Children less than age 8 and
less than 80 pounds must use a child restraint or booster seat in a rear seat if a rear seat is
available. Children ages 8-17 or who weigh at least 80 pounds are required to be in a seat
belt or booster seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
79
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8 or 80 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
100
Yes
Yes
Yes
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles manufactured before July 1, 1966; physician certified physical or medical
reasons; vehicle not required to be equipped with seat belts under federal law; rural letter
carriers; passenger automobile originally constructed with fewer seat belt systems
necessary to allow the passenger to be buckled.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants. Rear-seat passengers ages
18 and older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
Yes
Yes
Yes
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Drivers or occupants whose physical or medical condition prevents using a seat belt;
Rural letter carriers while delivering mail; Automobiles manufactured prior to July 1,
1966, which do not have seat belts.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: All people are prohibited from riding in the back of a pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
93
NEW MEXICO
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The New Mexico CPS law covers children through age 17. Children less than 1 must be in
a rear-facing child restraint, in the rear seat of the vehicle when possible. Children ages 14 or who weigh less than 40 pounds must be in a child restraint. Children ages 5-6 or who
weigh less than 60 pounds must be in a child restraint or booster seat. Children ages 7-17
must be in a child restraint or seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
59
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6 and 60 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
5
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
If all seating positions equipped with seat belts are occupied.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
unk
unk
unk
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Individuals who have a written statement from a licensed physician; on-duty rural letter
carriers.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 18 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
94
NEW YORK
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The New York CPS law covers children through age 15. Children less than age 7 must be
in a child restraint. Children ages 7-15 must be in a seat belt or appropriate child restraint.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
6
na
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 7
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
21
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
No. Liveries, taxis, and public transportation buses are exempt from the occupant restraint
law. However, children under the age of 4 must be restrained in a Federally approved car
seat while riding on a school bus [Section 1229-c(11), NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law].
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants. Rear-seat passengers ages
16 and older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
20
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Drivers or occupants whose physical or medical condition prevents using a seat belt;
Rural letter carriers while delivering mail; Taxis; Liveries; Buses other than school
buses.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: All people are prohibited from riding in the back of a pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
95
NORTH CAROLINA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The North Carolina CPS law covers children through age 15. Children younger than age 8
and who weigh less than 80 pounds must be in a child restraint. Children who are at least
age 8 or 80 pounds must be in a child restraint or seat belt. Use of a child restraint or seat
belt is required for children through age 15. Children less than age 5 and less than 40
pounds must be in the rear seat in vehicles with active passenger side air bags.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
79
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8 or 80 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
Yes
Yes
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Ambulances or other emergency vehicles; if all seating positions equipped with child
restraints or seat belts are occupied; vehicles not required to be equipped with seat belts.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Primary for front seat; Secondary for rear seat
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
0
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
A driver or occupant whose physical or medical condition prevents using a seat belt;
Rural letter carriers while delivering mail; newspaper delivery people; occupants of a
motor home (as defined in N.C.G.S. 20-4.01(27)d2) other than the driver and front-seat
passengers.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Transportation of children less than age 12 in the open bed of a pickup truck or other
open cargo area is prohibited
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
96
NORTH DAKOTA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The North Dakota CPS law covers children through age 17. Children younger than 7 and
who are also less than 81 pounds or less than 58" must be in a child restraint. Children
ages 7-17 must be in a seat belt or child restraint.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
6
79
56
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 7 or 80 pounds and 57 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
Yes
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Ambulances and other emergency vehicles.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants. Rear-seat passengers ages
18 and older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
20
unk
unk
unk
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Drivers or occupants whose physical or medical condition prevents using a seat belt; rural
letter carriers while delivering mail; drivers of farm husbandry or farm vehicles; people
who cannot use a seat belt because all of the available belts are already being used.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
97
OHIO
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Ohio CPS law covers children through age 14. Children less than age 4 or who weigh
less than 40 pounds must be in a child restraint. Use of a child restraint or seat belt is
required for children through age 14.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
3
39
na
No
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 4 and 40 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary for children less than age 4. Secondary for ages 4-15
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Taxicabs; Public safety vehicles.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants. Rear-seat occupants less
than age 15 must also be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
30
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Postal and newspaper delivery people; people with an affidavit from a physician attesting
that they cannot wear the belt for medical reasons.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 16 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
98
OKLAHOMA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Oklahoma CPS law covers children through age 12. Children less than age 6 must be
in a child restraint. Children ages 6-12 must be in a child restraint or seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
na
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
School bus, taxicab, moped, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle not required to be
equipped with seat belts pursuant to State or Federal laws; ambulance or emergency
vehicle; vehicle in which all of the seat belts are in use; children who for medical reasons
are unable to be placed in child restraints
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
20
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Individuals with a written statement from a physician; postal workers; farm vehicles,
vehicles not required to be equipped with seat belts
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
99
OREGON
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Oregon CPS law covers children through age 15. Children must ride rear-facing until
they are both age 1 and 20 pounds. Children at least age 1 and who weigh 21-40 pounds
must be in a forward-facing child restraint. Children over 40 pounds must be in a booster
seat until age 8 or 4'9" tall. Use of a child restraint or seat belt is required for children
through age 15. (Effective 07/01/07)
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
na
56
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8 or 57 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
77
Yes
Yes
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Privately owned commercial vehicles; taxicabs; vehicles not required to be equipped with
seat belts or safety harnesses at the time the vehicle was manufactured; if all seating
positions in the vehicle are occupied by other people; law enforcement vehicles;
newspaper and mail carriers; ambulances; utility meter readers; mass transit operators;
solid waste or recyclable materials collectors; physical conditions or medical problems
that prevent the use of restraints.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
77
Yes
Yes
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Privately owned commercial vehicles; taxicabs; vehicles not required to be equipped with
seat belts or safety harnesses at the time the vehicle was manufactured; if all seating
positions in the vehicle are occupied by other people; law enforcement vehicles;
newspaper and mail carriers; ambulances; utility meter readers; mass transit operators;
solid waste or recyclable materials collectors; physical conditions or medical problems
that prevent the use of restraints.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 18 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
100
PENNSYLVANIA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Pennsylvania CPS law covers children through age 17. Children less than age 4 must
be in a child restraint. Children ages 4-7 and less than 80 pounds and less than 4'9" must
be in a booster seat. Children ages 8-17 are covered by the PA Seat Belt Law and must be
restrained in either the front or rear seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
na
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8
Enforcement Type
Primary for children less than age 3. Secondary for children 4-17 years old.
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
100
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Medical
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants. Children ages 4-17 must
use seat belts in rear seating positions. Rear-seat passengers ages 18 and older are not
required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
10
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles manufactured prior to July 1, 1966; occupants with certification from a
physician; rural letter carriers; delivery drivers traveling less than 15 miles per hour.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 18 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
101
RHODE ISLAND
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Rhode Island CPS law covers children through age 17. Children less than age 18 must
be restrained in both the front and rear seats. Children less than age 7, less than 54 inches
tall, and who weigh less than 80 pounds must be in a child restraint. Children who are at
least age 7 or at least 54 inches tall or at least 80 pounds must be in a child restraint or seat
belt. Use of a child restraint or seat belt is required though age 17. Children younger than
7 must be restrained in the rear seat when possible.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
6
79
53
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 7 or 80 pounds or 54 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
75
No
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
This subsection applies only to those motor vehicles required by Federal law to have seat
belts.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
75
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
The provisions of subsections (b), (f) and (g) of this section shall not apply to a driver or
passenger of: (1) A passenger motor vehicle manufactured before July 1, 1966; (2) a
passenger motor vehicle in which the driver or passenger possesses a written verification
from a licensed physician that the driver or passenger is unable to wear a seat seat belt
system for physical or medical reasons. The verification time period shall not exceed 12
months at which time a new verification may be issued; (3) a passenger motor vehicle
which is not required to be equipped with a safety seat belt system under federal laws; or
(4) a passenger motor vehicle operated by a letter carrier of the United States Postal
Service while performing the duties of a letter carrier.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 16 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
102
SOUTH CAROLINA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The South Carolina CPS law covers children through age 5. Children less than age 1 or
who weigh less than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing child restraint. Children ages 1-5
weighing 20- 39 pounds must be in a forward-facing child restraint . Children ages 1-5
weighing 40-80 pounds must be in a belt-positioning booster seat. Children less than 6 are
not required to be in booster seats if they weigh more than 80 pounds or if they can sit
with their backs against the car's seat and bend their legs over the seat edge without
slouching. Children under 6 may not sit in the front seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
5
80
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 6 or 80 pounds or if belt fits
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
150
No
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Taxis; emergency vehicles when operating in an emergency situation; church, day care
and school bus drivers; public transportation operators; commercial vehicles.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
People whose medical or physical conditions prevent using a seat belt; Medical or rescue
personnel attending to patients; people riding in school, day care, or church buses; people
riding in public transportation vehicles except taxis; people riding in vehicles on parade;
United States mail carriers; drivers who make frequent stops for pick up of delivery;
people occupying the rear seat unless the vehicle is equipped with a shoulder harness as
well as a lap harness; or people in vehicles where all available seat belts are being used.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 15 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
103
SOUTH DAKOTA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The South Dakota CPS law covers children through age 17. Children less than age 5 and
less than 40 pounds must be in a child restraint. Children ages 5-17 must be in a seat belt
or child restraint.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
4
39
na
No
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 5 or 40 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
20
No
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Passenger car manufactured before 1966 that has not been equipped with seat belts; if all
the child passenger restraint systems or seat belts are occupied.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants. Rear-seat passengers ages
18 and older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
20
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Drivers or occupants whose physical or medical condition prevents using a seat belt; rural
letter carriers while delivering mail; people delivering newspapers or periodical assigned
on home delivery route; people riding in vehicles not required to be equipped with seat
belts under federal law; people riding in a passenger vehicle manufactured before
September 1, 1973.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
104
TENNESSEE
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Tennessee CPS law covers children through age 15. Children under age 1 or weighing
less than 21 pounds must be in a rear-facing child restraint in the rear seat, if available.
Children ages 1-3 and weighing at least 21 pounds must be in a forward-facing child
restraint in the rear seat, if available. Children ages 4-8 and less than 4'9" in height must
be in a booster seat in the rear seat, if available. Children ages 9-12 or at least 4'9" in
height are required to be in a seat belt with the rear seat being recommended. Children
ages 13-15 are required to be in a seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
8
na
57
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 9 or 57 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
No
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
A person shall not be charged with a violation of this subsection (a) if such person
presents a copy of the physician's prescription in compliance with the provisions of this
subdivision (a)(4) to the arresting officer at the time of the alleged violation.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants. Rear-seat passengers ages
16 and older are not required to be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
People who cannot wear a seat belt because of a physical disability; rural letter carriers of
the U.S. Postal service while performing official duties; automobile dealership
salespeople who test-drive 50 or more vehicles a day and where the test drives are within
1 mile of the dealership; utility workers while performing official duties; water, gas, and
electric meter readers in the course of their employment; people who are in the process of
delivering newspapers.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 12 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
105
TEXAS
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Texas CPS law covers children through age 4. Children less than age 5 and less than
36 inches tall must be in a child restraint in both the front and rear seats. Children ages 616 are covered by the Texas Seat Belt Law and must be restrained in either the front or
rear seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
4
na
35
No
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 5 or 36 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
200
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Emergency situations; Vehicle for hire; If all seating positions equipped with child
restraints or seat belts are occupied.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants. Rear-seat occupants less
than age 17 must also be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Individuals who obtain a statement from a licensed physician that there is a medical
reason that they not wear a seat belt; on-duty employees of the United States Postal
Service; individuals delivering newspapers.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 18 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
106
UTAH
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Utah CPS law covers children through age 16. Children less than age 5 must be in a
child restraint. Children ages 5-15 must be in a seat belt or a child restraint.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
4
na
na
No
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 5
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
45
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles that were not equipped with seat belts at the time of purchase (pre-July 1, 1966
vehicles); drivers or passengers that possess a written verification from a licensed
physician that the driver or passenger is unable to wear a seat belt for physical or medical
reasons; the law only applies to seating positions required to be equipped with seat belts;
the law does not apply to a passenger if all seating positions are occupied by other
passengers.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
45
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles that were not equipped with seat belts at the time of purchase (pre-July 1, 1966
vehicles); drivers or passengers that possess a written verification from a licensed
physician that the driver or passenger is unable to wear a seat belt for physical or medical
reasons; the law only applies to seating positions required to be equipped with seat belts;
the law does not apply to a passenger if all seating positions are occupied by other
passengers.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: All people are prohibited from riding in the back of a pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
107
VERMONT
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Vermont CPS law covers children through age 15. Children less than age 1 or less
than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing child restraint not installed in front of an active air
bag. Children ages 1-7 and weighing more than 20 pounds must be in a child restraint.
Children ages 8-15 must be in a child restraint or seat belt.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
na
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicle regularly used to transport passengers for hire except if owned or operated by a
child care facility; vehicles manufactured without seat belts; or if ordered to evacuate
people from a stricken area.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
unk
unk
unk
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Rural mail carriers; certain delivery vehicles; farm tractors; emergency vehicles;
bus or taxi; of ordered to evacuate people from a stricken area.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
108
VIRGINIA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Virginia CPS law covers children through age 15. Children less than age 8 must be in
a child restraint. Children ages 8-15 must be in a child restraint or seat belt. (Effective July
1, 2007.)
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
na
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
50
Yes
Yes
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Taxicabs; school buses; executive sedans or limousines; if a licensed physician determines
that the use of a child restraint system would be impractical by reason of the child's
weight, physical unfitness, or other medical reason.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and front-seat passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Any person for whom a licensed physician determines that the use of a seat belt system
would be impractical due to medical reasons; any law-enforcement officer transporting
people in custody or traveling in circumstances which render the wearing of a seat belt
system impractical; rural mail carriers for the United States Postal Service; taxi drivers;
utility meter readers; or personnel of commercial or municipal vehicles engaged in the
collection or delivery of goods or services.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: Drivers are prohibited from transporting children less than age 16 in the back of a
pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
109
WASHINGTON
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Washington CPS law covers children through age 15. Children less than age 8 and
less than 4'9" tall must be in a child restraint. Children ages 8-15 or at least 4'9" tall must
be in a child restraint or seat belt. Children under age 13 must be in the back seat where it
is practical to do so.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
na
56
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8 or 57 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
86
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to be equipped with seat belts; for hire vehicles; vehicles designed
to transport sixteen or less passengers, including the driver, operated by auto
transportation companies; vehicles providing customer shuttle service between parking,
convention, and hotel facilities, and airport terminals; school buses.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Primary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
37
Yes
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Operators or passengers who possess written verification from a licensed physician that
they are unable to wear a seat belt for physical or medical reasons; vehicle occupants for
whom no seat belt is available when all designated seating positions are occupied. The
state patrol may adopt rules exempting operators or occupants of farm vehicles,
construction equipment, and vehicles required to make frequent stops.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
110
WEST VIRGINIA
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The West Virginia CPS law covers children through age 7. Children less than age 8 and
less than 4'9" tall must be in a child restraint. Children ages 8-17 are covered by the West
Virginia Seat Belt Law and must be restrained in either the front or rear seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
na
56
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8 or 57 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
20
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
If all the seat belts are being used; vehicles operated for hire
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by driver and all front-seat occupants. Rear-seat occupants less
than age 18 must also be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
No
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Vehicles designed to transport more than 10 people, including the driver; motorcycle,
trailer or any motor vehicle that is not required under Federal law to have seat belts; rural
mail carriers; physically disabled people.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
111
WISCONSIN
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Wisconsin CPS law covers children through age 7. Children less than age 1 or less
than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing child restraint in the back seat. Children ages 1-3
or less than 40 pounds must be in a forward-facing child restraint in the back seat.
Children ages 4-7 and who weigh 40-79 pounds and who are less than 57 inches must be
in a booster seat.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
7
79
56
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 8 or 80 pounds or 57 inches
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
75
Yes
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Any child who because of a physical or medical condition or body size cannot be placed
in a child seat restraint system, child booster seat, or seat belt; if the motor vehicle is a
motor bus, school bus, taxicab, moped, motorcycle or is not required to be equipped with
seat belts under sub. (1) or 49 CFR 571.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Seat belts must be worn by all drivers and front-seat occupants. All rear-seat occupants
must wear a seat belt if a shoulder harness has been installed.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
10
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Emergency vehicles; vehicles on routes requiring more than 10 stops per mile; people
who, because of a physical or medical condition, cannot be properly restrained in a seat
belt; taxicabs; vehicles not required to be equipped with seat belts under 49 CFR 571;
rural letter carriers and newspaper carriers; vehicles operated by a land surveying crew
while conducting a land survey along or upon the highway; farm trucks or dual purpose
farm trucks not being operated upon the highway
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
Yes: All people are prohibited from riding in the back of a pickup truck.
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
112
WYOMING
Child Passenger Safety Law
CPS Law Summary
The Wyoming CPS law covers children through age 8. Children less than age 9 and less
than 81 pounds must be in a child restraint. Children must be in the rear seat in vehicles
with more than one row of seats.
Child Restraint Required1
Maximum Age
Maximum Weight
Maximum Height
"Booster" Provision?2
8
80
na
Yes
Seat Belt Allowed
Age 9 or 81 pounds
Enforcement Type
Primary
CPS Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
60
No
No
No
CPS Law Exemptions
Vehicles not required to have seat belts; emergency and law enforcement vehicles; school
buses; buses; if attending to the needs of the child; if parent or guardian and a licensed
physician has determined that the weight or physical or medical condition of the child
requires that the child not be secured in the restraint.
Seat Belt Law
Seat Belt Law Summary
Drivers and all passengers must be restrained.
All in Rear Seat Covered?
Yes
Enforcement Type
Secondary
Seat Belt Law Penalties
Max. Fine 1st
Court Costs?
License Points?
Insurance Points?
25
No
No
No
Seat Belt Law Exemptions
Any person who has a written statement from a physician; any passenger vehicle not
required to be equipped with seat belts; carriers of the U.S. Postal Service performing
duties as a postal carrier; any person properly secured in a child seat restraint system; any
person occupying a seat in a vehicle in which the driver or passengers are using all
operable safety restraints; vehicles designed to carry more than 11 people; emergency
vehicles; motorcycles; any person occupying a seat in a vehicle in which all operable
safety restraints are being used by the driver or passengers.
Rear of Pickup Law
Rear of Pickup Provisions?
No
1
Either in a child restraint with harness or booster seat.
"Booster" Provision = "Yes" If child restraint/booster is required for children older than age 4 (5+) or heavier than 40 pounds.
“Booster" Provision = "No" if child is allowed to be in a seat belt if heavier than 40 pounds or if older than 4 years.
2
113
APPENDIX C:
BOOSTER SEAT REQUIREMENTS IN EFFECT BY STATE, BY UPPER AGE LIMIT,
BETWEEN 2002 AND 2007
State Booster Seat Requirements
By Upper Age Limit, as of July 1, 2002
DC
AK
Up to Age 6
HI
Up to Age 7
Up to Age 8
Up to Age 9
No Requirement
Source: Safe Kids Worldwide (2007)
State Booster Seat Requirements
By Upper Age Limit, as of August 1, 2005
DC
AK
Up
Up to
to Age
Age 66
HI
Up
Up to
to Age
Age 7
Up
Up to
to Age
Age 88
Up
Up to
to Age
Age 9
No
No Requirement
Requirement
Source: NHTSA (2005); Safe Kids Worldwide (2007)
114
State Booster Seat Requirements
By Upper Age Limit, as of July 1, 2007
DC
AK
HI
Up to Age 6
Up to Age 7
Up to Age 8
Up to Age 9
No Requirement
Source: NHTSA (2007)
115
APPENDIX D:
MESSAGE CONCEPTS FOR CONVINCING PARENTS/CAREGIVERS TO USE BOOSTER
SEATS CONSISTENTLY AND PROPERLY
Concept A: Risk
Failure to secure children (age 4 to 8) properly in a booster seat results in far too many injuries and
fatalities every year. These young children have outgrown their infant seats but do not yet fit safely and
comfortably held by an adult's seat belt.
The risk to this child, when not protected by a booster seat is very high indeed, regardless of where in
the car he/she may be riding. Because of the child's light weight, he may easily be thrown by sudden
stops and turns, even at very low speeds and on short-distance trips.
A child secured by a booster seat is not only better protected but also more comfortable and able to
enjoy the view. He is also less likely to engage in behaviors that are dangerous to him and distracting
to adults.
Perhaps this failure to use booster seats is due to lack of awareness of the risks involved, to the
perceived inconvenience of moving the seats from one vehicle to another or even to the opposition of
the child to remaining in them. Responsible adults will see that the risks are just too great and will make
up their minds to use booster seats every time, all the time for age-appropriate children.
Concept B: Enforcement
All over the country today, states and municipalities are stepping up efforts to enforce the laws requiring
adults to secure their child passengers (ages 4 to 8) in booster seats.
Whether these laws are violated out of ignorance or indifference, the fact remains that children are being
needlessly, sometimes fatally, injured every year. These terrible incidents might well have been avoided
by proper use of booster seats.
Many state laws now mandate the issuance of tickets, fines and points against operators' licenses for
failure to use booster seats as and when appropriate. And, police forces are renewing their efforts to see
that these safety laws are obeyed.
Booster seats help prevent injuries and fatalities and make the trip more comfortable for children and
adults alike. If these are not reasons enough, there is another reason to use boosters every time, all the
time… it's against the law not to.
116
Concept C: It’s Easy
In any vehicular crash, even "minor" ones, children are especially susceptible to injury. Booster seats
help protect children from injury and death in crashes by ensuring that the adult seat belt fits properly.
Today, there is no reason not to provide your young passengers with proper protection. There are now
three types of booster seats available for purchase. Consumers can select the type that is appropriate for
their seat belt system and for the age and size of their child.
Any of these three booster seats is equally easy to install; though it is necessary to learn to do so
properly. Installation requires no tools and the seats can be readily moved from one vehicle to another
in no more than a minute or two. Many of today's models are lightweight and easily carried. Perhaps
best of all, placing and securing the child in the booster is likewise easy to do.
Booster seats can be purchased from many types of retailers. Like many products, booster seats come in
various materials and colors and offer a range of features. Prices vary accordingly but, on average,
boosters can be purchased for about $50.
Booster seats are easy to find, easy to install, easy on the child and easy on you.
Concept D: It's Your Duty
Young children ages 4 to 8 are among the most vulnerable passengers in a vehicle due to their small size
and weight. It is a well-documented fact that booster seats are the best way to save these kids from
injury and death in the event of a crash or even sudden turning or stopping.
Still, far too many adults are failing to protect their child passengers with booster seats, and for some
very weak reasons. Some say that booster seats are too difficult to install and to move from one vehicle
to another. That is simply not true. Today's seats are quick to install and easy to carry.
Maybe the weakest excuse for not using booster seats is that the child "won't" get in them or stay in
them. First of all, booster seats today are designed to be comfortable. Second, the child should not have
the final say on this matter. If your child demanded to be allowed to play in busy traffic, you would
certainly forbid it. The use of booster seats should also be non-negotiable.
Being a Mom, a Dad or a Grandparent takes wisdom and willpower. It is your duty to do the right thing
for your child. Keeping them from harm is the right thing, even when they are too immature to see it
that way. Take charge. Show them the right way.
117
APPENDIX E:
CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY LAW: A GUIDE FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT
118
119
DOT HS 810 969
May 2008
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF

advertisement