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Understanding Georgia’s Car Seat Laws (2024)

Georgia's Car Seat Laws (2024)

In the past decade, the Georgia General Assembly has made numerous adjustments to the car seat laws within the state, aligning the regulations more closely with the recommendations of national child safety organizations. Below, an experienced car accident lawyer outlines what you need to know about Georgia’s car seat laws.

Current Car Seat Laws in Morrow, GA

With rare exceptions, Morrow Georgia law mandates that children under the age of four, riding anywhere in a vehicle, must be secured in a child passenger restraint system that complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Children aged four to seven must use a booster seat if they have outgrown a car seat. As of 2016, any child under the age of two must be placed in a rear-facing restraint system until they surpass the height and weight limits specified by the manufacturer.

Unlike some states, Georgia does not require children of any age to sit in the back seat. After a child turns eight, they are only required to wear a regular adult seat belt. Exemptions are permitted for medical reasons or if a child’s size makes the use of a restraint system impractical.

These laws aim to enhance safety rather than penalize non-compliance. It is the responsibility of individuals traveling with children to ensure the appropriate restraint system is used. Entities involved in manufacturing, selling, loaning, or renting motor vehicles are not legally obligated to equip the vehicles with approved child safety restraint systems.

What Happens When Children Aren’t Properly Restrained in Cars

Failing to properly restrain a child in a vehicle is extremely hazardous and can be fatal. Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children ages 1 to 13 in the United States. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a child under 13 is involved in a crash every 33 seconds.

In the most recent year of reporting, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that 711 child passengers aged 12 and under were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Of those who did not survive, 36% were not restrained. While the use of child restraints does not guarantee safety, the CDC states that proper car seat use reduces the risk of injury to children by 71% to 82%.

According to the latest crash report from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), nearly 81% of individuals involved in vehicle crashes were wearing seat belts, while less than 7% were unrestrained. However, unrestrained occupants accounted for nearly half of all traffic fatalities. Another GDOT study revealed that children under four in car seats were uninjured 83% of the time during crashes.

National Recommendations for Use and Positioning of Car Seats

Although all states require the use of child safety seats, the specific laws vary. Nineteen states mandate that children under two years old must be in rear-facing car seats. Most states also require the use of booster seats as children transition from car seats to adult seat belts.

children under age 13 should ride in the back seat

The NSC recommends that children up to two years old always ride in rear-facing safety seats and that all children under age 13 should ride in the back seat. Furthermore, the NSC advocates for seat belts on school buses and for children under two to be properly restrained in separate seats on airplanes.

Subject to the height and weight specifications provided by manufacturers, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests the following restraints be used only in the back seat until a child reaches age 13:

  • Rear-facing: Birth to three years
  • Forward-facing: After the child outgrows rear-facing until age seven
  • Booster: After the child outgrows forward-facing until age 12
  • Belt only: When the lap belt rests across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt crosses the shoulder and chest, not the neck or face

Penalties for Violating Car Seat Laws

The penalties for violating car seat laws are minimal when compared to the potential risks to unrestrained children during crashes. Violations cannot be used as evidence of contributory negligence in civil actions, nor can they form the basis for a homicide by vehicle charge.

Violators face a $75 fine plus court and other associated costs. Funds collected are placed in the Child Passenger Restraint Fund and used to purchase car seats for loaner programs.

However, the fine can be waived if the violator can prove that an appropriate car or booster seat has been acquired, either by purchase, gift, or loan.

Pick the Right Car Seat for Your Child and Your Vehicle

How to Pick the Right Car Seat for Your Child and Your Vehicle

Ensuring a car seat fits both the child and the vehicle is crucial for maximum protection. Proper selection and installation of a car seat significantly enhance a child’s safety during an accident.

The Georgia Department of Transportation offers the following advice for choosing the right car seat and installing it correctly:

  • Select the appropriate type of safety restraint system based on a child’s age and size.
  • Use NHTSA’s Car Seat Finder and Ease-of-Use Ratings to compare brands.
  • Refer to car seat instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual for installation information.
  • Have the car seat installed or checked for proper installation at one of Georgia’s many Fitting Stations or take advantage of a free child seat safety check offered by the Georgia State Police.
  • Register the car seat to receive recall and safety notices.
  • Avoid using car seats from yard sales or hand-me-down sources, as they may have been in accidents that compromised their effectiveness.

It is recommended that children use a car seat until they exceed the size specifications for safe use and sit in the back seat until at least age 13. Many counties throughout Georgia offer car seat loan programs to help families in need keep their children safe on the roads.

From Understanding Georgia Car Seat Laws to Assisting with Motor Vehicle Accidents, The Stein Firm is Here for You

Although properly installed child safety restraint systems significantly improve a child’s chances of avoiding injury during a crash, they do not always provide complete protection. Injuries to children from car accidents can profoundly impact their growth and future. Personal injury compensation should address current damages and any anticipated future losses.

At The Stein Firm, our Georgia car accident lawyers focus on helping families recover compensation for injuries sustained in car accidents. Our experienced legal team is dedicated to obtaining the maximum available recovery and helping our clients get their lives back on track.


Protecting Your Child’s Safety and Legal Rights

Understanding and adhering to Georgia’s car seat laws is essential for ensuring the safety of young passengers. Proper use of child restraint systems significantly reduces the risk of injury and fatalities in the event of a car accident. By following the guidelines and recommendations provided, parents and guardians can enhance the protection of their children on the road.

However, even with the best precautions, accidents can still occur. If your child has been injured in a car accident, The Stein Firm is here to help. Our dedicated team of experienced Georgia car accident lawyers is committed to securing the maximum possible recovery for your family and helping you navigate the legal process.

For any legal assistance or questions regarding car seat laws and car accident claims, please contact:

The Stein Firm
Attorney: Robert D. Stein

1497 John Robert Drive, Suite C Morrow, GA 30260

+1 770-961-1700

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