Car seats won’t prevent accidents, but they can prevent some serious accident injuries when they are used correctly. A car seat could even save your child’s life in a catastrophic crash. Accordingly, it is important to understand what seat your child should be in according to his age, size, and requirements of Illinois law.
Illinois Car Seat Laws
Each state has its own car seat laws. Illinois law changed in 2019 to reflect the American Academy of Pediatrics guidance that children should remain in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. As of January 2019, the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act requires parents and drivers to make sure that:
- Children under the age of two are in rear-facing car seats. From birth until age two, children should ride in rear-facing car seats. Exceptions may be made to this rule, however, if the child weighs more than 40 pounds or is more than 40 inches tall.
- Children under the age of eight are secured in appropriate child restraint systems. Depending on the child’s age and size, this may include a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a booster seat. At all times, the child restraint system must fit the child, the vehicle, and be used according to the car seat manufacturer’s guidelines.
All car seats should be anchored in the back seat of the vehicle, and it is recommended that all children aged 12 and under ride in the back seat even when they outgrow the need for a booster seat. Remember, if your child is smaller than average or has special needs, then there may be additional ways that you can keep your child safe in the car.
Illinois Law Places the Responsibility on the Driver and Parents
Whether you are the child’s parent or you are the one transporting the child, you have a responsibility to make sure that he is in a proper car seat or seat belt according to Illinois law. The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act requires that every driver:
- Transporting a child under the age of eight makes sure that the child is in an appropriate child restraint system. For older children, this may include a booster seat.
- Transporting a child between the ages of eight and sixteen makes sure that the child is wearing a seat belt at all times when the vehicle is moving.
According to the law, however, it is the parent who is responsible for providing the right type of car seat, and it is the driver who is responsible for making sure that the child is properly secured in the vehicle.
Drivers who violate the Child Passenger Protection Act may face financial penalties for violating the law. As of 2019:
- A first offense may result in a ticket of $75 and court supervision if the driver presents to the court evidence from a child safety seat technician that the driver has a properly installed child restraint system and has completed an instructional course on how to install the system.
- A second offense is a petty offense with a potential fine of $200. Court supervision is not an option after a second offense.
However, the penalties may be far steeper and extend far beyond financial penalties if a child is hurt or dies because of an accident in your vehicle. If this happens to a child in your car, then you may bear the emotional trauma of the child’s death, and you could face a personal injury or wrongful death case. You, or your insurance company, may be responsible for paying financial damages for the child’s injuries or death. These damages may include, but are not limited to, past and future medical costs, out-of-pocket expenses, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other damages that occurred because of the accident.
To learn more about keeping your child safe in the right car seat, please talk to your pediatrician or local police department.