Colorado Car Seat Laws
Motor vehicle accidents can happen to anyone, including children. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, one out of every 10 injuries Colorado children sustain involves a car crash. Young children are smaller and can easily slide out of traditional seat belts, leaving them vulnerable to serious injury and even death during these collisions. To protect vulnerable kids in these situations, Colorado requires parents to use car seats until their children meet certain requirements.
Different Types of Car Seats in Colorado
Car seats can come in a variety of designs and safety specifications, and these differences matter. These designs work best for different children, protecting them from harm in the event of a collision. Rear-facing car seats, for example, are more appropriate for infants, while larger toddlers and young children may graduate to forward-facing seats. Older children can use a car seat or booster seat, and teenagers have the option to use a traditional seat belt.
Who Has to Use a Car Seat in Colorado?
Colorado determines car seat requirements based on two factors: a child’s age and their weight.
- Infants under one year old must use rear-facing car seats in the back seat only until they reach 20 pounds, and rear-facing seats in the front or back seat when they are 20 to 40 pounds.
- Toddlers between ages one to three must use rear-facing seats if they are under 20 pounds, rear- or forward-facing seats between 20 and 40 pounds, and forward-facing or booster seats if they are over 40 pounds.
- Younger children between ages four to seven can use forward-facing seats if they are between 20 and 40 pounds, and forward-facing seats or booster seats if they are over 40 pounds.
- Older children between ages eight to 15 can use booster seats or seat belts, provided they are over 40 pounds.
Older children can often choose between multiple types of car seats, while younger children usually have to use one type until they grow out of it. As children grow, state law expects parents to follow guidelines in the car seat manufacturer’s user guide and switch seat types once their kids meet the size and weight limits for the next category up.
Children over the age of 15 and adults must still wear seat belts whenever they are in the front seat of a vehicle, and while Colorado law doesn’t require older teenagers and adults to wear seat belts in the back seat, they can be lifesaving. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, over half of teenagers between the ages of 13 to 19 who died in car accidents in 2018 were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.
Consequences for Violating Car Seat Laws
If you have a child, it is important to follow these car seat laws for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it is the responsibility of a child’s parent or guardian to ensure children are properly restrained during a car ride. These seats do protect your child during car accidents, and the state can impose a $65 fine if you do not comply. Since failing to place your child in a car seat is a legal violation, police officers can pull you over on this offense alone.
While a car seat may protect your child from a great deal of harm during an accident, injuries can still occur whether your family was buckled up or not. If you are facing injuries due to another driver’s negligent actions, speak to a Colorado car accident attorney to determine your pathways to compensation.