Stephen Hasner | Car Accidents | February 22, 2022
In Georgia, car accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injuries for children aged 1-12 years.
According to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 608 children under the age of 12 died in car crashes. In the same year, more than 91,000 children were injured. Of the children under 12 who died in car crashes, 38% were not buckled up.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that four out of every ten children under six years of age who die or are injured in car accidents are not restrained properly.
The Importance of Car Seats
According to the CDC, the risk of serious and fatal injuries is significantly reduced when children are restrained in properly sized and installed car and booster seats. The risk of injury from a car accident is reduced by 71–82% when children are protected by a car seat instead of just being restrained with a seat belt.
NHTSA statistics show that 325 children under the age of five are saved each year by properly used car seats. The data is abundantly clear that correctly restrained kids in a properly installed car or booster seat are more well-protected than those who are not.
Georgia Car Seat Laws
The Georgia state legislature has passed laws on the use of car seats because it realizes the important role they play in keeping children safe. It’s vital to familiarize yourself with these laws to protect yourself and your children.
Children Under One Year
Children under the age of one year should be restrained in a rear-facing infant car seat, regardless of their weight.
Children from One to Three Years of Age
Under Georgia law, children from one to three years of age should be in the following seats, depending on their weight:
- Under 20 pounds: in a rear-facing car seat
- 20-40 pounds: in a rear- or forward-facing car seat
Generally speaking, it’s recommended for a child to stay in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible for greater safety and protection, even if they are eligible to use a forward-facing seat.
Children from Four to Eight Years of Age
Georgia law requires that children from four to eight years of age be placed in a rear- or forward-facing car seat if they weigh less than 40 pounds.
If they are over 40 pounds and under 4’9” tall, they should be seated in a forward-facing car seat or booster seat and restrained by a lap and shoulder belt. The lap belt should rest across the child’s lap rather than the stomach.
In all these instances, Georgia statutes require that children ride in the backseat of any vehicle. In this way, they are not at risk of being hit by the force of a deploying airbag. Any children over the age of eight years are required to wear a seat belt when in a car.
Consequences for Violating Car Seat Laws
Violating Georgia’s car seat laws can result in a fine of up to $50 and one point against your driver’s license per improperly restrained child. Subsequent violations can double the fine and points.
Help Finding and Installing a Car Seat
There are many car seat options available, and it can be difficult to choose the right seat for your child and your vehicle. The NHTSA provides car seat recommendations to help you determine what seat best meets your needs.
The NHTSA says that 80% of car seats are not installed correctly. You can visit your local fire department for help installing and inspecting your car seat. You can also search for other car seat inspection stations that may be near you.
By having your car seat installation double-checked, you can ensure that your child is benefiting from the safety these seats provide.