How do I interpret the Illinois Child Passenger
Infants and Toddlers
Illinois law requires all children to be properly restrained in a child safety seat
or booster seat until age eight. After age eight, Illinois law requires everyone
under the age of 19 to be properly restrained anywhere in the vehicle.
Currently, Illinois law does not require children to ride rear-facing to
a set weight or age like some states. Illinois law does require that all
children be properly restrained in child safety seats. The American
Academy of Pediatrics and NHTSA strongly
recommend that children stay rear-facing until they are BOTH over one
year of age AND over 20 pounds to protect their fragile head, neck, and
Illinois law requires all children to be properly
restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat until age eight. After age eight,
Illinois law requires everyone under the age of 19 to be properly restrained
anywhere in the vehicle. Legislators in Illinois passed the “Booster
Seat” law to protect children
from their number one killer – motor vehicle crashes. More children
between the ages of four and
eight are killed in motor vehicle crashes than
any other age group. It was commonly thought that children between
the ages of four and eight were safe only in a safety belt. However, vehicle
manufacturers design safety belts for small adults who are at least
80 pounds and 4 feet 9 inches tall. Safety belts are not designed for
four – eight year old children. Booster seats raise a child up so that the
adult safety belt can be properly positioned across the stronger bones
of their body rather than soft tissue.
|| Legislators in Illinois amended the Child Passenger
Protection Act to protect children until they are large enough
to be protected by a safety belt alone (click
here for the 5
step test to see if your child is ready for a safety belt ).
The average child does not reach 80 pounds and 4 feet 9 inches in
height before their eighth birthday. Since safety belts are made
for small adults who are at least 80 pounds and 4 feet 9 inches
tall, the Illinois law was amended to best protect the vulnerable
four - eight year old age group. If the safety belt does not fit properly,
your child is at great risk for severe internal injuries or death.
Some children need to be in booster seats past age eight.
What does the 40 pound exemption mean
in the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act?
The Illinois Child Passenger Safety Protection Act has a 40 pound exemption
that can be confusing. Keeping in mind that the intent of the “Booster
Seat Law” is to protect children, the exemption will make more sense.
Your child may be restrained in your vehicle's lap only belt without
a booster seat if he/she is over 40 pounds AND you do not have ANY
seating positions with a combination lap AND shoulder
safety belt. Your
child must still be restrained in the lap only safety belt to prevent ejection
from the vehicle. Push the safety belt low on your child's hips and
Belt positioning booster seats can only be used with combination lap AND shoulder
safety belts. Belt positioning booster seats cannot be used with lap
only safety belts. Since older vehicles may not have combination lap AND shoulder
safety belts in the back seat or anywhere in the vehicle, an exemption had
to be made for those vehicles that cannot use a booster seat properly.
If your child is over 40 pounds he/she will not fit in the majority
of child safety seats on the market with an internal harness. Most child safety seats
have an internal harness upper weight limit of 40 pounds. After a
child reaches the upper weight limit of his safety seat's internal
harness, child safety seat manufacturers recommend that the child be removed
from the safety seat with an internal harness and placed in a booster
seat. Graduation of a child from a child safety seat with an internal harness
to a booster seat poses a problem if your vehicle does not have
and shoulder safety belts in ANY seating position. Booster seats can ONLY
be used with combination lap and shoulder safety belts.
The Illinois law had to make an exemption for families that want to protect
their children, but do not have a vehicle with combination lap and shoulder safety
belts in ANY seating position. While it is best to always restrain
an older child in a booster seat with combination lap AND shoulder
safety belt, an
exemption had to be made for vehicles with lap ONLY belts in every
seating position where a child can ride.
The Illinois law had to make an exemption for children over 40 pounds
who cannot use a booster seat according to the manufacturer's instructions,
because there are NO combination lap and shoulder belts in ANY seating position.
What about vehicles that have lap only safety belts in the center,
but combination lap and shoulder safety belts by the doors?
The 40 pound exemption in the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act does
not apply to this situation. The 40 pound exemption ONLY applies when
NO combination lap and shoulder safety belts are available in ANY seating position.
Your child has to be properly restrained in a booster seat in an
available combination lap AND shoulder belt position if you have lap AND shoulder
belts available anywhere in your vehicle.
I thought the center of the vehicle was the safest position?
The center of the vehicle is the farthest away from frontal, side-impact,
or rear-end crashes. When possible, it is recommended that children
be placed in the center of the vehicle. You can have lap only safety
belts retrofitted with a shoulder safety belt in your vehicle. If you have
your vehicle retrofitted with shoulder safety belts, you can keep your child
in the center position in a booster seat restrained according to
the booster seat manufacturer's instructions. Contact your vehicle manufacturer for more information on changing lap only safety belts to combination lap and shoulder safety belts.
Another option to having your lap belt retrofitted with a shoulder
belt is to use either a child safety seat with an internal harness limit
past 40 pounds or a travel vest. Please contact the Illinois Special Needs
Child Passenger Safety Resource Center for more information on these
options (1-877-CRSNKID or 1-877-277-6543).
It is best for everyone in the vehicle to have upper and lower
body protection from either a lap and shoulder safety belt, a booster
seat used with a combination lap and shoulder belt, or the internal harness of a