In Georgia, your child must use a car seat if they’re under eight years old or shorter than 4’9”, per O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76. Violating this law can result in a $50 fine. The consequences can be far more grave when an accident occurs, though.
When driving with a child passenger, motorists must ensure they are using child car seats and other safety restraints. An improperly installed car seat can fail to keep a child safe, resulting in a slew of physical, emotional, and financial losses.
Examples of Georgia’s Car Seat Laws
Depending on your child’s age and size, certain mandates apply. Take a look at the information provided by Georgia’s Consumer Protection Division:
Children Under Eight Years Old or Under 57 Inches Must Sit in the Back
Children younger than eight years old or shorter than 57 inches have to ride in the backseat. This is because a child’s small frame cannot withstand the force of a deployed airbag. In a collision, a car seat prevents the child from the impact. It also prevents them from being ejected from the vehicle.
No Backseat? Your Child Can Sit in the Front with a Car Seat
If you own a two-seater vehicle, like a truck or sports car, your child can sit in the front seat even if they’re under eight years old or less than 57 inches tall. However, they must be properly restrained in a car seat or booster appropriate for their size. Additionally, any child sitting in the front seat must weigh at least 40 pounds.
Police Officers Can Cite Any Driver with Unrestrained Child Passengers
Regardless of an unrelated traffic violation, police officers can stop and cite any driver with unrestrained child passengers. For instance, if you’re ticketed for speeding, and you have an unrestrained child passenger, you can get ticketed for this violation, as well.
Violating Georgia’s Car Seat Laws Can Result in Fines and Points on Your License
Any violation of Georgia’s child car seat laws can result in a fine of $50 and one point against your license for each improperly restrained minor. Subsequent violations can double the fine and the number of points against your license.
No child should ever go unrestrained in a vehicle, even during a short drive. Abiding by Georgia’s child car seat laws can be a life-or-death decision that we make as parents and caregivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2017, car seats, booster seats, and seat belts saved over 14,000 children.
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Additional Safety Tips for Driving with Child Passengers
Along with the regulations set forth by the state, here are some tips that can promote your child’s safety:
Never Drive with a Child in Your Lap
Some drivers feel safer having their children in their laps. However, this is a direct violation of Georgia’s laws, and it actually puts a child at greater risk of harm.
Remember: airbags in the front seat deploy with great force, and a child sitting in a driver’s lap is even closer to the airbag. Children should not sit in any other passenger’s lap, either, even someone who is sitting in the back seat.
Dispose of Old Car Seats or Ones Involved in Previous Crashes
You should make sure that your child’s car seat is up to date with current safety standards and is in good condition. Dispose of an old car seat or one that has been involved in a previous accident, even if it appears to be in working condition.
Defects may not be visible to the naked eye, but they put your child at risk if an accident occurs.
Secure Your Child on Every Trip
Whether you’re going down the street or taking a long road trip, always secure your child in their car seat. According to Georgia’s Consumer Protection Division, more than half of all vehicle collisions occur within a 5-mile radius of a person’s home.
When driving close to home, you may feel safer, but your defenses are lowered. Driver error can occur anywhere, so make it a habit to secure your child in their car seat.
How do I Know If My Child’s Car Seat is Up to Standard?
You can learn more about your child’s car seat by visiting the NHTSA’s website. By entering your child’s age, weight, and height, you can explore whether their seat meets their needs. There are also inspectors that can examine your car seat to determine whether it’s been properly installed.
The NHTSA estimates that 46 percent of car seats are used or installed incorrectly. You want to do everything to protect your child. Taking a closer look at their car seat is just one way to do this.
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Call Kaine Law If Your Child was Injured in a Car Accident
Kaine Law is a personal injury law firm representing accident victims in Georgia. With offices in Atlanta, Conyers, Lawrenceville, and Stockbridge, Kaine Law’s personal injury attorneys can help you hold a negligent driver accountable for your losses. We operate on a contingency-fee agreement, so there are no legal fees unless we win.
For a free consultation, call (404) 214-2001, and we can discuss your legal options.
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