According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, at least 425 children have had their lives saved by car seats, booster seats, and child passenger safety education programs between 2018 and 2023.
This statistic alone proves how important Georgia car seat laws are for the community.
Unfortunately, not every parent in Georgia is aware of the various rules and regulations that dictate how kids should safely ride in vehicles. The more this knowledge gap decreases, the safer our community’s kids will be. Below, we’ll summarize some of the most important car seat laws in Georgia, and we’ll also discuss how our firm can help you if your child was recently harmed in a car accident that wasn’t your fault.
What You Need to Know About Georgia Car Seat Laws
Georgia car seat laws are traffic laws that apply to all drivers on Georgia roadways. Motorists who travel to the state from other areas must comply with all of Georgia’s car seat safety laws with very few exceptions. The only times in which it’s acceptable to not comply with the safety restraint regulations are when:
- Parents can prove the child is over 4’9”
- The vehicle does not have lap and shoulder belts
- The lap and shoulder belts are being used to restrain other children
- The vehicle is a taxi cab
- Public transportation vehicles are exempt
Otherwise, motorists must comply with the law. If the police discover a non-compliant driver, then they can issue a traffic ticket to the driver. The ticket could result in a fine of up to $50 and one point against the person’s driver’s license.
Georgia’s Car Seat Requirements Explained
The laws in Georgia were compiled with the child’s safety as the top priority. All regulations were created based on the child’s size. As the child’s height and weight increase, the restraints are slowly reduced. By the time the child is old enough and big enough for a traditional shoulder belt to be appropriate, the law allows the child to get out of the child restraints. Below, we’ll go over all the specifics you need to comply with.
Georgia’s Infant/Toddler Car Seat Law
Georgia car seat laws describe the proper way to restrain infants and toddlers in vehicles based on their weight and height. According to the safety standards, the safest way for an infant (or small toddler) to ride in a vehicle is to be strapped into a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of the car.
A rear-facing seat is the best and safest because it has a harness. It also can move and cradle the child in the event of a crash. These important features can protect the infant’s (or toddler’s) neck and spinal cord, which could ultimately save their life.
As the child grows, however, there will come a time when they can no longer fit in a rear-facing car seat. At that point, it is acceptable to move the child to a forward-facing seat.
Georgia’s Rear-Facing Car Seat Law
Under the law, rear facing car seats must be used from birth until at least one year of age. Parents must have a child passenger restraining system appropriate for the infant that’s approved by the Department of Transportation under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. This standard has been in place since 1983. You can verify that your seat is approved by looking for the safety information directly on the car seat package or the car seat itself.
Georgia’s Forward-Facing Car Seat Law
Once a child turns one, parents have more discretion regarding whether or not to put their child into a forward-facing seat. A forward-facing car seat has a harness and tether. Together, these limit the child’s movement during a crash.
While Georgia car seat laws give parents more discretion starting at age one, parents should still follow all the seat manufacturer’s recommendations. These specific recommendations should be found directly on the car seat itself. There should be a sticker describing the proper weight and height a child should be before the car seat goes forward facing.
Keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends trying to keep an infant in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. It’s the safest spot for your child up until they reach age two or the highest weight and height recommended by the seat manufacturer.
Georgia Child Booster Seat Laws
Once a child outgrows the manufacturer’s height and weight recommendations for a forward facing car seat, they can transfer to a booster seat. A booster seat isn’t as bulky as a traditional car seat. It simply helps the child be in a position where the seat belt can fit properly around the child. Without a booster seat, the seat belt might rest on your child’s neck or even near their face, which is extremely dangerous if a crash occurs.
Under the law, children can start using a booster seat once they turn 4 years old, but it’s best to keep them in a car seat as long as possible. This is the safest option.
A child should remain in a booster seat until they turn at least eight years old. This booster should continue to be used until the child reaches at least 12 years old or they can comfortably ride with the seat belt resting in the correct position across the upper thighs and chest.
Can My Child Ride in the Front Seat in Georgia?
Another common question that comes up is – can my child ride in the front seat in Georgia? Under the law, you should always keep children in the back seat until they reach age 13. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. It is legally acceptable to restrain the child properly in the front seat when the vehicle doesn’t have any rear seating position that’s appropriate for a child or all the rear seating positions are already occupied by other children.
What is Gross Car Seat Misuse?
There are some parents who are unaware of car seat laws, but most parents do know about them. Unfortunately, though, awareness and knowledge about car seats aren’t enough. Parents also need to know how to properly secure the car seats, too. When car seats are installed incorrectly or they’re used inappropriately, that’s considered car seat misuse. When the car seats are installed so poorly that they aren’t offering any protection, then that’s considered gross car seat misuse.
Why are Car Seat Laws in Place in Georgia?
Georgia car seat laws are in place for one specific reason – to keep children in Georgia safe in the event of an accident. Without car seats, children would be extremely vulnerable during car crashes. Seat belts offer some protection for adult passengers, but these seat belts don’t offer the same level of protection for kids. In fact, seat belts alone can be very dangerous and even deadly to young children because the seatbelts don’t sit in the right position.
Car Accidents and Injuries to Children
Car accidents can lead to very serious injuries for children. If a child gets injured and it’s discovered that the parent didn’t have them restrained properly, then consequences will follow. Not only could the parent get fined and ticketed, but they might also face criminal negligence charges, too.
Unfortunately, children can sustain substantial and even fatal injuries even when they are properly restrained. When that’s the case, parents should investigate what caused the car accident. If someone else’s negligence contributed to or caused the accident, then the parents might have legal recourse. By seeking out a civil personal injury claim, parents might be able to gain access to financial compensation to help them recover from the losses they endure.
How to Cope with Losses After a Car Accident
Georgia car seat laws are in place to protect children from harm, but not everyone in Georgia understands these rules and regulations. What’s more, children can still maintain serious injuries even when they’re fully strapped into a proper restraint system. If that happens, then the financial losses experienced by the parents can be substantial.
If you’ve recently experienced a car accident that led to several losses, then it’s important to start researching your legal options. If someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident, then you might have the basis to seek out a legal claim for compensation.
To find out more, it’s a good idea to speak with a car accident lawyer about what you’ve experienced. If you’re in Georgia, then our firm can help you learn more about your legal options and rights. That way, you can make a better decision on how to move forward after your accident. Schedule a consultation with our firm now to talk with one of our best car accident attorneys.