Automobile accidents are the leading cause of deaths among young children and this is due in large part to 4 out of 5 car seats being used incorrectly. Until your child reaches the age of 8 years old, they must remain and be restrained in booster seats, or any other appropriate child car seat. The parents and caregivers that are searching for an appropriate child safety seat that will meet the requirements in Colorado, need to assure the car seat aligns with the child’s weight, height, and age. Look below to see which car seat will fit your child appropriately and properly protect them in the event of an automobile accident.
Birth to 1 Years old and Less than 20 Pounds
The child must remain in a rear-facing seat in the back seat only (no exceptions).
Although this is the law in Colorado, many experts recommend keeping the child in a rear-facing seat until they reach 2 years old. Never place a rear-facing child seat in the front seat of a vehicle with an active airbag. This includes single-cab pickup trucks. Rear-facing seats provide the best protection because the head, neck, and torso is supported by the back of the safety seat whether you are involved in a frontal or side impact car accident.
1 – 3 Years Old and at Least 20 Pounds or Heavier
Must remain in a forward-facing seat in the back seat of the vehicle only (no exceptions). The child should remain in a forward-facing or rear-facing seat until they reach the upper weight limit set by the car seat manufacturer.
Secure the 1 – 4 year old in a rear or forward-facing seat with a 5-point harness system, which often features two shoulder straps, two hip straps and one crotch strap, until the child reaches at least 40 pounds. The advantage to a 5-point harness system is two-fold by having more points of contact to distribute the crash forces and it offers better protection than a lap and shoulder belt. It is always best to keep the child in the backseat to avoid the impact of vehicle airbags.
4 – 7 Years Old
Children between the ages of 4-7 must continue to ride in a child safety seat. This car seat can be a five-point harness system for a younger child or a booster that uses the vehicle’s lap and shoulder seat belt as the children get older and bigger.
A child should be in a booster in the back seat until they are 4’9″ tall and at least 8 years old. The use of booster seats can reduce the risk of injury by 59% compared to using a car seat belt alone. Keep your child in a booster seat until:
- They are 4’9″; for many children this is after the age of eight and therefore, height is the safest guideline.
- The seat belt crosses the shoulder and chest, not across the neck.
- The lap belt crosses the upper thighs and not across the abdomen.
- Their knees bend at the edge of the back seat and the feet dangle downwards.
- They are able to remain seated in a proper position the entire trip.
Beginning at 8 Years Old to 16 Years Old
The child may use a standard vehicle safety seat belt. Although Colorado law allows children to use a standard seat belt at 8 years old, it is recommended that you wait until your child is at least 4’9″ before transitioning to a seat belt, so as to avoid injury in case of an accident.
Follow the guidelines above to determine when the child can graduate from using a booster seat. It is best to keep the child in the backseat as long as possible or until at least age 13 and weighs about 100 pounds. If a teenager seats themselves in the front of the vehicle, move the seat as far back as possible in case the airbag deploys in the event of an accident. In the end, remember that children learn by watching their parents and therefore, make sure you are practicing safe habits.
Car Seat Fit Recommendations
Is Your Child In The Correct Car Seat?
When it comes to the matter of life or death, using the correct car seat could save a child’s life. The leading cause for children are vehicle crashes and many of those deaths can be prevented. It is your responsibility as a parent or caregiver to ensure children younger than 16 are properly and safely secured during every trip.
Match Size to the Seat.
Often times, there are no standard size requirements for car seats. Even if the child looks grown enough to move to the next size seat, be sure to follow all manufacturer recommendations on the car seat label. All car seats, booster seats and seat belts are developed to protect children based on their size, not their age.If you need assistance installing a child safety seat, find an inspection station near you. Most stations offer free assistance to ensure proper seat installation.
A violation of child passenger safety are enforced as primary traffic safety laws. If an officer pulls you over for breaking a child-safety law, you will face a minimum $82 fine. Contact the Child Passenger Safety (CPS) organization to ask any questions you may have regarding child car seat requirements or find a location that can check the safety of your child’s safety seat. If you and a child were involved in an accident and sustained personal injury, please call a Ramos Law attorney today.