The Utah Department of Public Safety outlines specific rules for car seats. How long should your child be in a car seat? When is it safe to transition to a booster seat? Children under 8 years old must be properly secured in an approved child safety seat. This is the case until they are at least 57 inches tall. Children between 8 to 12 years old must be in an appropriate child restraint device or by a safety belt. Yet the law does not apply to school buses and vehicles manufactured without safety belts.
A booster seat is a great transition from a forward-facing car seat to a booster seat. Seat belts are made for adults. Booster seats protect children that are too large for a forward-facing car seat. They also make it possible for the seat belt to fit across the strongest bones of the body. Therefore, always use your car seat to the maximum height or weight limit before moving to a booster seat. Finally, follow the age, weight, height and other guidelines provided by the car seat manufacturer.
A child ready to use an adult seat belt without the aid of a booster seat will be around 4′ 9″ tall. Keep in mind that because children do vary in size by age, some children could still need a booster seat at the age of 10 or 11. Studies show 89 percent of children ages 4-7 ride in the back seat.
Booster seats serve as an important middle step between a car seat with harness and a vehicle’s lap belt. Children using a booster seat is more comfortable for children and allows them to see out of the window better because they are “boosted up.” Check your child’s growth a few times a year. Generally, kids need to use a booster until they are about 4′ 9″ tall and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds.
REPLACED AFTER AN ACCIDENT?
Most car seats need to be replaced if they were in a vehicle car accident. This is the case even if the child was NOT in the car seat during the crash. Crash forces can be extreme.
Substantial crashes may be enough to bend the steel in your car’s frame. Therefore, obviously enough to damage the plastic in your child’s car seat. True even if you can’t see the damage with the naked eye. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends to replace a child restraint whenever it was in a crash no matter the severity of the crash.