Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death for children under the age of 12. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38 percent of children who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2019 were not properly buckled up. Although nothing can guarantee child safety in a car accident, a car seat can go a long way toward improving the likelihood of survival. Learn Colorado’s car seat laws to make sure your child is as safe as possible on rides.
Colorado’s Car Seat Requirements
As is the case in all 50 states, car seats are a legal requirement in Colorado. State law says that children up to 15 years old must be properly secured while riding in motor vehicles. This means they must use a child restraint system or seat belt based on what is appropriate for his or her age and height. Below is a breakdown of the current child restraint requirements in Colorado:
- Rear-facing car seat: required for all children who are less than 1 year old and weigh less than 20 pounds.
- Rear-facing or forward-facing car seat: for children who are 1 to 4 years old and weigh 20 to 40 pounds.
- Booster seat or similar child restraint system: all children under the age of 8, subject to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions.
- Seat belt or child restraint system: required for all children between the ages of 8 and 15.
In general, it is best to keep your child in each type of car seat until he or she reaches the maximum weight limit listed in the manufacturer’s instructions. A driver can face penalties for operating a motor vehicle with an unsecured child in the car. The punishment is a $65 fine plus a $6 surcharge. This is a Class B traffic infraction in Colorado. There are exceptions for emergencies and in certain commercial motor vehicles, however.
When Can a Child Stop Using a Car Seat in Colorado?
Legally, a child can stop using a car seat at age 8 in Colorado. From this point on, the child should use a seat belt at all times when riding in a car. The child should also remain in the back seat rather than the passenger seat until at least age 13. If your child is 8 years old but relatively small for his or her age, you may need to continue using a car seat or booster seat. The height at which a booster seat is no longer recommended is 4’9.” At this height, your child should be able to correctly use an ordinary safety belt across his or her lap and shoulder.
Car Seat Safety Tips
You can keep your child even safer in the car with a few basic tips for how to correctly purchase, install and use a car seat or booster seat:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing your car seat or booster seat. If you need assistance properly installing or using your car seat, visit one of Colorado’s free car seat safety inspection stations.
- Do not use an old or used car seat. Car seats deteriorate over time, especially if the plastic is exposed to the sun. Wear and tear can diminish the seat’s ability to safeguard your child in an accident.
- Check for car seat recalls before you buy. A recalled car seat has a defect, such as a design or manufacturing flaw, that can make it dangerous for children. Check the national list of recalls to make sure you don’t buy one with a safety problem.
- Buckle up even on short trips. Do not let your child ride in the car unsecured, no matter how short the drive. You never know when an accident might happen.
If your child was recently injured in a motor vehicle accident in Fort Collins, contact a car accident attorney at Cannon Law for legal assistance.