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I've had a few questions lately about car seat laws in Alabama. The state law changed in July 2006 to require forward-facing car seats until age 5 or 40 pounds, and to require booster seat use until age 6. Alabama is one of many U.S. states to make car seat law changes in recent years. Federal guidelines now suggest that children are safest when they stay in a harnessed car seat as long as possible, and then use a booster seat until they are at least 4'9" tall or weigh at least 80 pounds. Often the height and weight recommendations are met around age 8. Several states, including Kansas, have changed their car seat laws to reflect these federal guidelines.

Has your state made changes to car seat laws recently? Do you feel that your state's law goes too far, or that it doesn't do enough to protect children and educate parents? Use the comments box below to share news and opinions on car seat laws.
January 17, 2011 at 10:17 am
(1) Dora says:

For parents of children that are short statured due to a genetic condition such as achondroplasia in our case, the weight and height guidelines don’t make sense as most of our children may never reach 4’9″ even in adult height. So what is the best way to balance the laws and guidelines with our specific children’s needs. Our children need to be age appropriate but may not meet standards for changeovers to forward facing and booster.

February 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm
(2) Marie says:

My 8 year old only weighs 54 pounds,so does this mean he has to ride in a booster seat or not? My brother-in-law recieved a ticket for not having my son in a booster seat even though he was in a seat belt. And the fine was not $25 for first offense, he had to pay $250. That was not fair. So, what do you go by, 4’9″ or 6years and 40 lbs or 8 years and 80 lbs? A mother can get very frustrated with all this mixed legislature.

February 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm
(3) babyproducts says:

It’s strange that your brother in law received a ticket for not having a child in a booster if the child was old enough to be in a seat belt per state law. There could be more to the situation, or the officer could have made a mistake. Personally, if I received a ticket in error I would be sure to attend the court date and I’d bring the child’s birth certificate to show proof of age.

State law is what you should go by to avoid tickets, but safety-wise, it’s best to go by age *and* height. For example, my 9-year-old is still riding in a booster because she’s not yet tall enough to properly fit the adult seat belt.

September 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm
(4) Bobbie Gusnard says:

Both of my children are small for their age. My daughter didn’t reach 4’9″ till she started 8th grade. And I’ve only let her start riding in front seat at 5′ tall, because she was 14yo and at 15 got her drivers permit. Son is 13yo and still in a booster seat since he isn’t 4’9″.
I had read in a hand out at children’s doctor office. Then after my 5’4″ mother was the passenger in car with my dad. They were hit almost head on, on the drivers’ side. Mom had her arm broken by the airbag and her chest hurt for about a year. Was taken to ER. She was told that the airbag hitting her in the chest caused a deep bruise that would probable last a year. When I see small kids in front seat, it would be their face hurt by the airbag. Wish they would pass a law about it.

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