Georgia Booster Seat Laws
If you are raising a young child in Georgia who you believe does not need a car seat anymore, you may wonder if you can opt for a booster seat instead. Of course, you would like to keep your child safe while also making more room in your vehicle, but you need to ensure that you are following the laws in your state at all times to avoid injuries during an accident and traffic violation ticket.
In this article, Spaulding Injury Law will go over everything you need to know about using a child’s booster seat in Georgia. We care about your family’s safety and want to make sure that you are aware of the laws and policies within your state regarding this subject. If you have any further questions that this article does not answer, please feel free to reach out to our office by telephone at 770-744-0890.
Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Children in Georgia
While Georgia has some of the strongest child car seat and booster seat laws in the United States, it remains in the top five states with the most child fatalities due to traffic accidents.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Georgia had 55 child traffic fatalities in 2020. Therefore, it is important to drive carefully and be aware of your surroundings when your child is in the vehicle with you and to ensure they are fully secure and in the proper seating needed when driving from place to place.
Even though Georgia is leading ahead of 46 states with child traffic fatalities that could have been prevented, it is necessary to point out that child traffic injuries and fatalities have decreased after Georgia updated and implemented its new set of child safety seat laws in 2011.
Before the new child safety seat laws were enacted, the previous laws only applied to children under six. This means some children were taken entirely out of their car seats and placed in regular seats once they turned six.
The lawmakers and advocates in Georgia learned that this was unsafe as the healthcare system would see 95 percent of patients between the ages of 6 and 8 who were improperly restrained when motor vehicle accidents occurred. Therefore, they decided to do something about this, which led to new policies covering children up to eight years old.
The Child Restraining System Laws in the State of Georgia
Georgia Code § 40-8-76 states that children under the age of eight must be restrained properly in a system appropriate for their height and weight. All vehicles must follow these guidelines, including cars, pickup trucks, and vans. However, it does exclude public vehicles that carry more than 15 passengers at once and taxis.
Georgia’s Office of Highway Safety explained that this newly amended law requires individuals to adjust their child’s restraining seat system as the child grows. Therefore, for the first three years or until the child reaches the required weight of 20 pounds, they must be in a car seat that faces towards the rear of the vehicle.
When the child becomes big enough not to need to be in a rear-facing car seat, they will need to be in a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness system. Most people are aware of what this car seat looks like as it has two shoulder straps that buckle directly into the car seat’s lap belt.
Most children will remain in a forward-facing car seat until they are at least 40 pounds. After they have reached this set weight, they are allowed to be placed into a booster seat while riding in a motor vehicle.
A booster seat is a seat that works with the car’s regular seat belt. This booster seat will lift the child above the vehicle’s seat, allowing the shoulder strap to sit on the shoulder and chest. You must provide a booster seat for your child, or the seat belt will not work properly as it will be on the child’s neck and not their shoulder and chest. If you were to wreck without this proper seating for your child, the seat belt would not prevent serious injuries during a motor vehicle accident. Neck injuries are also very common for children not placed in a booster seat before operating the vehicle.
If your child is four feet and nine inches tall before their 8th birthday, you may be able to stop using the booster seat sooner. Then, they will need to be properly buckled in when the car is in motion. Do you have questions about child restraint laws in Georgia? Was your child injured in a car accident? Call Spaulding Injury Law to schedule a consultation today.
Does It Matter Which Seat a Child Sits In?
All states, including Georgia, require that children under the age of eight only ride in the backseat of a motor vehicle. You may be tempted to allow them to ride up front with you, but this is a very bad idea. The reason for this is that when a wreck occurs, your airbags may deploy, and the impact of your airbags may cause serious head injuries to your child.
Airbags are meant to protect adults seated in front of a motor vehicle, but they are not designed to protect minors sitting up front. Therefore, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain seated in the backseat until they are at least 13 years of age.
If you are driving a motor vehicle with no backseat, such as a small pickup truck, the child may sit up front if they are in the appropriate restraining system. However, a backseat is the best option for young children as it provides the most safety during a motor vehicle accident.
What Are the Penalties for Violating the Child Safety Restraint Laws in the State of Georgia?
If you are caught with a young child, not in their proper seat or restraining system, law enforcement can stop you for not following the law. If this is your first offense, you will most likely receive a $50 fine from a judge.
You may be able to avoid this fine if you purchase a child safety seat according to your child’s weight and height before your court date. If you prove this, a judge may decide to waive the $50 fine. However, the Georgia Department of Driver Services will add one point to your driving record if this is your first offense.
If this is your second or third offense, the fine will increase to $100, and the Georgia Department of Driver Services will add two points to your record. If you continue to violate the child restraint law, you may receive more points on your driving record.
Why Are Booster Seats Important and Highly Recommended?
Georgia takes their child safety restraint laws seriously. We understand that it can become expensive to buy three different car seat systems for your young child as they grow but failing to follow the laws implemented by the state of Georgia can get costly as well.
Booster seats are extremely important and highly recommended because they can reduce injuries and even save the lives of young children when a car accident occurs. The chances of preventing injuries with a proper restraint system are between 55 and 70 percent. Therefore, you should follow the law and purchase a booster seat for your child.
The Most Common Injuries Experienced by Small Children Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident
Children involved in motor vehicle accidents will most likely become injured due to their small size. However, it is important to reduce the severity of their injuries by ensuring that they are in the proper restraint systems when the vehicle is moving. Here are a few of the most common injuries reported among small children involved in motor vehicle accidents include head injuries, thoracic injuries, abdominal injuries, upper extremity injuries, and lower extremity injuries.
Head injuries are the most reported injury among children in motor vehicle accidents. The most common types of head injuries were concussions and lacerations. Children who were one or under experienced more concussions and unconsciousness, while children between the ages of one and seven experienced more skull base fractures.
Regarding thoracic injuries, children under one experienced more rib fractures, while children between the ages of one and seven experienced more lung injuries.
Abdominal injuries are also common among children involved in motor vehicle accidents. Those between the ages of four and seven typically experienced about 30 percent of all abdominal injuries reported. Children under the age of one made up 14 percent of abdominal injuries, and children between one and three accounted for 19 percent of these injuries.
Upper Extremity Injuries
Humerus fractures are very common among children between the ages of one and three. This age group makes up 43 percent of upper extremity injuries. These injuries accounted for 26 percent of children under one, 24 percent of children between one and three, and 35 percent of children between four and seven.
Lower Extremity Injuries
Lower extremity injuries were reported among many children involved in motor vehicle accidents. Regarding these types of injuries, pelvic fractures were most reported among children under the age of one, and below-knee injuries were most reported among children between the ages of one and three. Below knee injuries fell into the following age groups and percentages: Children between the ages of one and three (37 percent), Children between the ages of four and seven (35 percent), and children under the age of one (17 percent).
How to Properly Install a Child’s Booster Seat in a Motor Vehicle
If you are wondering how to properly install a child’s booster seat, we have developed a step-by-step guide on how to do this successfully. We think it is important to know this information because the booster seat will not help keep your child safe if it is not properly installed. The following are the steps to follow to properly install a child’s booster seat in a motor vehicle:
- Place the booster seat in the backseat of your motor vehicle.
- Make sure the booster seat remains flat on the backseat. Do not let it become tilted or turned in any way.
- Ask your child to sit in the booster seat for practice.
- Once they are seated in the booster seat in the backseat of the vehicle, reach for the vehicle’s seat belt and place it across your child’s chest and body.
- Buckle the seatbelt.
After completing all five steps, you have successfully installed a child’s booster seat and are ready to begin driving! Make sure you read the manual if one is included. This will ensure that you do not miss any needed information that you may need in the future. It is also important to look for the expiration date because the last thing you want to do is become involved in a motor vehicle accident and have your child in an expired booster seat. This means a better, more up-to-date version of the booster seat is available, and the old one may not keep your child secure effectively.
Have You Been Involved in a Recent Car Accident in Georgia? Contact Spaulding Injury Law for Help.
If you have recently been involved in a car accident in Georgia and need assistance filing a claim, our car accident attorneys at Spaulding Injury Law are available to assist you. We are up to date on all laws surrounding motor vehicle accidents and can answer any questions you may have.
Please reach out to our office at your earliest opportunity by filling out our contact form or calling our office, and we will be glad to get started on your case as quickly as possible. We look forward to hearing from you soon! You should not have to pay for medical bills and other expenses related to an accident out of your own pocket due to someone else’s negligence.