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Car Seats

Choose the Right Seat!

Motor vehicle crashes are among the leading causes of death for children ages 3 to 14 years old. Even a sudden stop can seriously injure a child who is not riding in the right type of child safety seat.

You can reduce the risk by having your child always ride in a properly fastened and secured safety seat.

The National Highway Traffi c Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises parents and caregivers to keep children in each restraint type, including rear-facing, forward facing and booster seats, for as long as possible before moving them up to the next type of seat. To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fi ts within the manufacturer's height and weight requirements. There is no need to hurry to transition a child to the next restraint type.

USE THE CHART BELOW AS A GENERAL GUIDE TO IDENTIFY THE APPROPRIATE TYPE OF SAFETY SEAT FOR YOUR CHILD. REFER TO SEAT AND VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS' INSTRUCTIONS FOR SPECIFIC DETAILS.

AGE TYPE OF SEAT
Birth - 12 months Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
1 - 3 years Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he/she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your child seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing seat, he/she is ready to travel in a forward-facing seat with a harness.
4 - 7 years Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he/she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your child seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing seat, it's time to travel in a booster seat in the back seat of the car.
8 - 12 years Massachusetts law requires that your child be secured in a federally approved booster seat/safety belt combination until he/she is 8 years old or over 57" tall. At that time, your child is ready to wear an adult safety belt. Remember that the safest place for your child is in the back seat of the vehicle.

DON'T SKIP A STEP–GIVE SAFETY A BOOST

Booster seats put children in the proper position to safely use safety belts.

  • Children 12 and under should always ride in the back seat. Follow vehicle manufacturers' warnings about seating children near airbags.
  • IMPORTANT: Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an airbag.
  • Never place a shoulder belt behind the back or under the arm.
  • Set a good example. Wear your safety belt! Massachusetts law requires everyone to be properly restrained.
  • Loose objects can become projectiles in a crash. Use a trunk or cargo area to properly store loose items.
  • Review your child's safety seat and vehicle manufacturers' instructions. If you need assistance, find a Child Passenger Safety Technician within your community at www.mass.gov/childsafetyseats or call 877-392-5956 or TTY 617-725-0261.

WHEN IS A CHILD BIG ENOUGH TO WEAR A SAFETY BELT?

  • Tall enough to sit without slouching with back and buttocks against seat
  • Shoulder belt rests comfortably across the shoulder and chest, not the neck or throat
  • Lap belt fi ts securely, low and snug on hips
  • Knees completely bend over edge of seat
  • Feet are fl at on the fl oor

SUMMARY OF THE MASSACHUSETTS CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY LAW (AS OF 7/10/08)

  • Children riding in motor vehicles must be in a federally approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years old OR over 57" tall.
  • A police offi cer can stop your vehicle if a child age 12 or under is not properly restrained.
  • The operator of the motor vehicle in which a child age 12 or under is not properly restrained shall be subject to a fi ne of $25.

To obtain auxiliary aids, services, or accessibility information, contact the Executive Offi ce of Public Safety and Security's (EOPSS) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator at 617-727-7775, ext. 25508 or TTY 617-727-6618.

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