Road trips with your children are some of the best memories you’ll make. As fun as they are, safety is just as important as anything on the itinerary, if not more. Whether you’re a resident of Georgia or just visiting, keep reading to learn more about Georgia car seat laws and the best ways to keep your young ones safe on the road.
According to the Consumer Protection Division of the Georgia Office of the Attorney General, car accidents are the leading cause of death in children aged 1-12 years old. The state of Georgia implemented essential laws to keep kids safe to combat this frightening statistic.
There are three significant aspects of GA car seat laws to know about:
- Children under eight years old and under 57 inches tall must ride in the backseat. They must also be in a car or booster seat, depending on their height and weight.
- If the vehicle doesn’t have a backseat, children can sit in the front as long as they are properly restrained using a safety seat.
- Georgia police officers can pull you over for a citation if a child is not adequately secured.
Children Under 8
The only actual Georgia car seat law in place regards passengers under eight years old. The law states that these passengers must sit in the backseat of the car.
Under 1 Year
Children under one year old should ride in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. There are very few instances where children under one year old can sit in a forward-facing car seat.
Between 1 and 3 Years
Children between 1 and 3 years of age should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the maximum height and weight requirements provided by the seat’s manufacturer. When the child grows out of the rear-facing seat, they can graduate to a forward-facing child safety seat.
Between 4 and 7 Years
Children between the ages of 4 and 7 should ride in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the height and weight maximums listed by the seat’s manufacturer. When the child hits that threshold, they can move on to a booster seat using a lap and shoulder seat belt.
Children Under 13
The state of Georgia offers guidance on car safety with children under 13 as well. The state recommends that anyone under 13 should ride in the backseat. Georgia officials recommend children between 7 and 12 years old ride in a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt until the seat belt can fit snugly without one.
Children Under 18
Georgia doesn’t offer much guidance on seat belt safety for minors over 13 and under 18. Still, the Georgia Child Passenger Safety Law does recommend children under 40 pounds and 4 feet and 9 inches tall should ride in a booster seat. Those who are over both thresholds need to wear a seatbelt.
Georgia Child Seat Laws
According to law 40-8-76, the Georgia Child Passenger Safety Law, children up to 18 years under a certain height and weight must sit in a booster seat at the very least. Here’s a comprehensive look at the law from their downloadable infographic:
|Under 1 Year Old||1-3 Years Old||4-7 Years Old||8-18 Years Old|
|Under 20 lbs.||Rear-facing car seat||Rear-facing car seat|
|21-40 lbs.||Rear- or forward-facing car seat|
|Over 40 lbs., under 4 ft. 9 in.||Forward-facing car seat or booster seat with seat belt||Booster seat with seat belt or seat belt|
|Over 40 lbs., over 4 ft. 9 in.||Seat belt|
What to Look for in a Car Seat
Georgia’s Consumer Protection Division aims to inform residents of the best ways to keep children safe, including offering guidelines for finding the best car seat for your child. These are the essential car seat characteristics to look for:
Meets Federal Safety Standards
Every child safety seat made and distributed in the United States must meet federal safety standards. Safety seats with the five-point harness system are the safest as they restrain the whole body and help with shock absorption in an accident. However, the safest seat for your child is the one that your child fits in the best.
Comfortable for Your Child, Compatible to Your Car
The best car seat is comfortable for your child. Your young one should have no problem relaxing in the seat during long trips. Don’t rule out bringing your kid along with you while shopping for a seat. The seat should also fit your type of car, able to be appropriately restrained in the backseat.
Comes with a Warranty
Long-lasting child safety seats almost always come with some warranty, whether it be a few months to a year. Warranties will help you if the seat breaks. You could get a replacement at no cost.
What About Leaving Children in the Car?
Georgia doesn’t currently have any laws surrounding leaving children alone in vehicles. Only 20 states have some regulations on the subject. Even though there are no laws in Georgia, you should never leave your child alone in the car. Anything could happen, from forgetting they’re back there to overheating. Don’t take the chance.
Exemptions to GA Car Seat Laws
There aren’t many exemptions when it comes to buckling children in proper car seats safely, but there are a few in Georgia. Taxis are exempt from this law. Any child under 18 riding in a cab does not need to be buckled into a car seat.
Cars with no backseat (i.e., old trucks, vans, etc.) are also exempt from these laws, but the child must still wear a seat belt while riding in the front seat.
Penalties for Noncompliance
As mentioned above, there are penalties for not complying with Georgia seat belt laws. Officers can pull you over for noncompliance; they don’t need any other traffic violation and can issue you a citation.
Police can issue fines up to $50 and one point on your license for each unrestrained minor in your vehicle. If you’re pulled over a second time for the same violation, police may issue double the fine and double the points.
Georgia law calls noncompliance with seat belt regulations a “gross misuse,” also called “non-use.” When police pull you over for seat belt violations, they’ll be looking for the following problems:
- No seat belt tethering the car seat to the car
- The child isn’t secured with harness straps
- Rear-facing car seats or children of that age sitting in the front seat
- Children under one year old in a front-facing seat.
Family road trips should be fun, and safety is just as paramount. Keep Georgia car seat laws in mind when traveling through the state. As a reminder, children under the age of 8 must stay in a backseat, and it’s recommended to use a car or booster seat until the seat belt can fit snugly across the child’s lap and shoulders.
Take your child with you while shopping to try out different car seats and find which one fits your child the best. When you properly install the seat and have your child securely fastened into it, you can hit the road with the best confidence that your loved one is safe.