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Connecticut has strict car seat regulations and child passenger safety laws which were last updated as of October 1, 2017.
The regulations list an age and weight, the child must meet both requirements.
• Infants must remain rear-facing until they are a minimum of 2 years old AND 30 pounds. This is an increase of 1 year and 10 pounds. Rear-facing car seats are not allowed in the front passenger seat with an operable airbag.
• Toddlers can ride either rear-facing or forward-facing in a child restraint system equipped with a five-point harness until 5 years AND 40 pounds.
• Children between 5 and 8 years old AND between 40 and 60 pounds can ride a in booster seat secured by a seat safety belt, forward-facing in a child restraint system equipped with a five-point harness, or rear-facing. Under the previous law this section referred to children 6 and under.
• Children who are at least 8 years old and 60 pounds, tweens and teens must be in a seat belt whenever they ride in a vehicle. It is further recommended that children should ride in the back seat until they are 13 years old.
All people and objects should be properly restrained whenever they are in a vehicle.
• Mirrors and window shades are considered after-market accessories and are not crash tested. They, along with water bottles and other loose items in the car, can easily become projectiles in an accident. Loose cargo in your SUV can be especially dangerous if your child is in a rear facing seat.
• Infant car seats are tested and designed to be used with the carry handle folded down and nothing extra attached to them. Any dangling toys or extra padding should be removed and the handle should be folded back when used in the car.
• Ensure that the seat belt that secures the car seat is not twisted or folded. It can cause wear and stress points on the strap.
• Most car seats expire after 6 years from the date of manufacture. The date, model and serial number are printed on a label on the seat. If you can’t find the date you can check the owner’s manual or call the manufacturer and ask them.
• Register your car seat with the manufacturer so you will be notified of any recalls. Even if you no longer have the registration card you can submit the model number via the manufacturer’s website.
Pursuant to CT Public Act 17-230, any person who violates the car seat regulations “shall, for a first violation, have committed an infraction; for a second violation, be fined not more than one hundred ninety-nine dollars; and, for a third or subsequent violation, be guilty of a class A misdemeanor. The commissioner shall require any person who has committed a first or second violation of the provisions of this subsection to attend a child car seat safety course offered or approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The commissioner may, after notice and an opportunity for a hearing, suspend for a period of not more than two months the motor vehicle operator’s license of any person who fails to attend or successfully complete the course.”
With the October 2017 update to this law, Connecticut becomes the eighth state to accept the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics that propose children remain in rear-facing child restraints up to age 2. Statistics show that 18 out of 21 car seats can be installed improperly. Some of the misuses can include having harness traps too loose, loose car seats and retainer clips in too low of a position. It’s important to read the instructions on car seats carefully to know what to do and not to do.
You can find out if your car seat has been recalled by calling the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236 or the NHTSA Web site at www.safercar.gov.
The full law, section 11 of CT Public Act No. 17-230, is listed at https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/ACT/pa/pdf/2017PA-00230-R00HB-07055-PA.pdf.
Safe Kids Connecticut has a brochure about the new law.
The Southington Police Department will do a car seat safety check by appointment – details are at http://southingtonpolice.com/childseatsafety.html. The Southington Fire Departments will do safety checks too.
Thank you to the Bradley Henry Barnes & Leila Upson Barnes Memorial Trust at the Main Street Community Foundation for helping the ECCS promote car seat safety in order to improve the well-being of Southington’s young children.