Most parents assume child restraint laws apply only to infant and toddler age groups. Years ago, they did. But, a new Colorado Child Passenger Safety Law now extends car seat or booster seat requirements to all passengers 7-years-old and younger and also maps out requirements for children up to age 16.
Previously, Colorado law required only children 5 years of age and younger to ride in car seats or booster seats. But as of Sunday, Aug. 1, safety regulations encompass a much greater number of young people riding in passenger vehicles.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, car wrecks are the greatest cause of accident injury deaths for children between age 1 and 14. In an attempt to decrease this statistic, the state’s new passenger restraint guidelines address height and weight of child passengers to at least the same extent, if not more so, as the child’s age.
Because of the way automobiles are designed, a passenger’s height directly relates to how well a vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts provide restraint during a car accident. A person who’s 4’9” or taller is tall enough to ride while wearing manufacturer-installed vehicle safety belts. Taking this into consideration, the Colorado Child Passenger Safety Law maps out the following guidelines:
- A rear-facing car seat is required for children up to age 1 or up to the seat manufacturer’s maximum specified weight.
- A rear or forward-facing car seat is required for children ages 1 to 3 or up to the seat manufacturer’s maximum specified weight.
- A forward-facing car seat or booster seat is required for children ages 4 to 7 or up to 4’9” tall.
- A booster seat or lap & shoulder belt is required for children up to age 16.
Parents need to use the style of safety seats and manufacturer size limits to determine the best method to safely restrain their children. Safety officials point out that only children who are noticeably larger or smaller than average will not fall within the law’s suggested safety guidelines.
The new law makes it a primary offense for any passenger who is 16 years old or younger to ride unrestrained in a moving vehicle. This means law enforcement officers can pull over drivers for non-compliance with the new regulations, rather than citing the driver for non-compliance in the course of a traffic stop for another offense.
For one year, police will issue only warnings to vehicle operators not following the new law. Beginning Aug. 1, 2011, tickets will be issued with a minimum $82 fine.
It remains only a secondary offense for passengers 17 and older to ride unrestrained in a moving vehicle.
To help parents determine the right seat for their children, fitting events are being held all over the state of Colorado, beginning with Cheyenne Wells, Colorado Springs, Denver and Lakewood on Aug. 5, 6 or 7. Booster Seat Blitz events are being held Aug. 13, 14 or 15 in Akron, Bayfield, Black Forest, Broomfield, Commerce City, Cortez, Delta, Denver, Eagle, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Greeley, Ignacio, Lamar, Pueblo, and Silverton.
You can read more about child passenger safety, search for the nearest fitting station and download a one-page rundown of the law’s specific requirements at www.CarseatsColorado.com or call 1-877-LUV-TOTS.
Colorado’s Child Passenger Safety Law is part of the CDOT Integrated Safety Plan that aims to decrease traffic accidents and accident injuries within the State of Colorado by expanding safety partnerships with government, law enforcement and vehicle safety education.