Car seat laws can sometimes sound unnecessary or somewhat exaggerated, but they can mean saving lives.
Delaware fatal crash statistics show that in 2020 and 2021, there were 25 and 20 deaths, respectively. But what you may not be aware of is that belting up and following safety recommendations can significantly lower the risk of dying in fatal road accidents.
This article discusses Delaware seat belt laws and Delaware car seat laws.
Delaware Seat Belt Law
The State of Delaware has a law requiring that every passenger in a car must always have their seat belts on correctly, and this includes even the passengers and children on the backseat.
The law states that the lap and shoulder straps must always be on. The shoulder straps must always be appropriately strapped and not placed under the arm or behind the passenger’s back.
When it comes to children, a child’s height and weight determine the car seat rules you have to uphold.
Wearing your seatbelt increases your chances of surviving by about 50% and also reduces the severity of injuries. By not strapping up properly, you’re four times more likely to die from a car crash, which is why Delaware and just about every other state have made it such a stringent law.
Below is information concerning the four primary Delaware car seat laws.
1. Rear-facing Seat
Delaware child seat laws require every child under the age of one year to always ride in the car facing the rear side. The main reason behind this is that children are way safer facing the rear if any accidents occur.
Rear-facing seats can only accommodate infants of a certain weight and height. The advantage of using rear-facing seats is that they could also act as carriers attached to shopping carts and strollers.
When your infant reaches certain requirements based on their age, height and weight, you’ll have to transition them to a convertible car seat.
2. Convertible Car Seat
A convertible car seat is a more resourceful car seat because it could act as a front-facing car seat or as a rear-facing car seat, depending on your child’s readiness.
It’s typically used by kids aged one to three. However, when your child turns one, you don’t need to rush into transitioning them to the convertible car seat. Instead, it’s better to keep them in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible.
Let your child stay rear-facing until they exceed the specified height and weight limit. Don’t worry if your child takes up to two years to transition. It’s a very typical situation.
3. Front-facing Seat
The next step after the convertible seat is the front-facing seat. This seat is used by children between the ages of four and seven.
It’s recommended to let your child stay in the front-facing seat for a while before transitioning them to the next level.
Only after your child has reached the required weight and height can they use the next seat, the booster seat.
4. Booster Seat
It’s important to remember that even if your child outgrows the front-facing seat, you shouldn’t have them skip straight on using regular seat belts.
Your child should first use a booster seat before reaching the maximum height and weight limit required to strap on a seat belt.
Children typically use booster seats when they’re between the age of 8 to 12 years, after which they can begin strapping on their seat belt.
Booster seats are used when children are heavy enough for a car seat but too short for their seat belts. They’re used to lift your child so that the seat belt straps properly anchor them and aren’t loose.
Your child could use the booster seat for as long as they need. There’s no need to get worried about them outgrowing it.
Most booster seats are equipped with some extra padding, a head cushion, and armrests.
5. All-in-one Seat
The all-in-one seat takes the convertible seat a step further. It can be used as a front-facing, rear-facing, or even a booster seat.
It may seem like after buying an all-in-one seat, you’re done with the seats, but no, that’s not the case. Why is that?
You’ll still have to adjust it according to the required height and weight for each car seat stage.
In Delaware, the car seat and safety belt laws are primary laws. A primary law means that the police can pull you over and point out your violation of the law without any other justification.
In Delaware, failure to uphold car seat laws can result in a $25 fine, plus some additional court charges that could total to $85.
If you have more than one child in the car, the charges might be separate, leading to an even heftier fine. And depending on the number of times you’ve broken this law and the number of violations, you could pay a fine of up to $500.
In case you still have some issues you’re unsure about, below are the most frequently asked questions about car seat laws.
Technically there’s no safest car seat. What matters is finding the car seat that perfectly fits your child.
When picking a car seat, you want one that meets all the recommendations and has undergone all the tests to ensure your child’s safety and comfort.
Some parents have expressed a few concerns about how their child seems to be cramped when using a car seat or that they have to fold their legs while rear-facing until they reach the height and weight limit.
However, children can comfortably sit with their legs extended, crossed, or hanging over the sides of the car seat. Leg injuries while on car seats are infrequent, especially when your child is riding rear-facing.
You can determine this by inspecting the seatbelt while your child is strapped in.
If the seatbelt restrains the child, especially at the lower hips, and the shoulder strap retrains the child across the collarbone, ribs, and shoulder, then you know the belt fits.
On the other hand, if the belt restrains the child on the neck or the stomach, it’s likely to cause them injury and much discomfort.
Another thing to check to ensure the seat belt fits properly is that the child’s knees should bend at the edge of the seat with their back leaning against the seat.
If your child doesn’t fit the criteria, it’s best to have them seated in a booster seat for a little longer.
Seat belts are there to keep us safe and of course, they won’t fit all children. But thankfully, there are different types of car seats to ensure your child’s safety as they transition through the different stages of development.
Now you know Delaware seat belt laws and what belt is best for your child at what stage. Remember to follow the correct regulations about your child’s height and weight to avoid being on the wrong end of the law.