Utah Car Seat Safety: What You Need to Know

Article at a Glance
• Car seats can reduce the chance of a fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for children ages 1 to 4.
• Infants under 2 should remain in a rear-facing car seat and children under 8 years of age need to be in a car seat or booster.
• Learning how to properly install and use your child’s car seat makes it more effective.

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that nearly 5 out of every 10 car seats are not properly restrained, even though 83% of drivers said they were “confident” or “very confident” that they installed it correctly.

The data shows a significant discrepancy between the proper way to install a car seat and what most people believe to be the proper way. In other words, a majority of parents may be inadvertently putting their children in danger.

So what is the correct way to install a car seat to keep our kids safe? And what does Utah State law have to say?

Car Seat Installation: Are You Doing It Right?

Proper car seat installation and how your child should be situated in a car seat is a combination of a few factors including the child’s height, weight, and age. It is important to review all safety instructions that come with your car seat to ensure proper installation.

If you are unsure if you’ve installed a car seat correctly, the Utah County Health Department offers car seat safety classes and checks. To schedule, call (801) 851-7035.

Size and Fit

Select a car seat or booster seat based on your child’s age, height, and weight to ensure the seat fits them correctly so they can safely be restrained.

Rear Facing

Children should remain rear facing in a car seat until they are two years old. For the first two years of life your child’s head is heavier than their body. The impact from a crash is too much for their neck to support. Remaining rear facing provides the extra support needed to prevent injury.

Backseat Rider

Children should ride in the backseat until they are 13. The seats and airbags in the front are intended for males weighing between 150 to 160 pounds. They can harm your child and possibly cause fatal injuries.

Give Them a Boost

In Utah, the law says that children under the age of 8 and less than 57 inches tall must ride in a booster seat. The booster puts their bodies at the right height for the seatbelt and reduces the chance of major injury.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children should not be transitioned to a booster seat until they outgrow the height and weight limits for their forward facing car seat.

Utilize the LATCH System

If you ever wondered what those metal loops are on the back of the rear row of seats in your car, then wonder no more! These serve an important purpose in the LATCH system.

LATCH is an acronym for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, which is a system for securing a car seat that has been required in new cars since 2002. The requirements were updated in 2014 to adjust for modern car seats and make installation easier. Learn more about LATCH.

Key facts about the LATCH system:

  • The combined weight of your child and the car seat should not exceed 65 pounds when using the LATCH system.
  • If the combined weight of the car seat plus the weight of the child is more than 65 lbs. you should use the seat belt system to install your car seat.
  • Studies have shown that people make fewer errors when installing a car seat with the LATCH system then when using seat belts.
  • The LATCH system is compatible with all car seats, and provides a tighter fit.
  • If your child and the car seat exceed the weight limits for the LATCH system, you should continue to use the car seat and install it using the seat belt system.

Utah Car Seat Laws

Using a car seat is extremely important in protecting a child in the event of an accident, and it’s also the law. Here a few important Utah car seat laws:

  • Any child who is under eight years old is required to use a child restraint device.
  • Children must ride in a car seat or booster seat until the age of 8 or until they reach a height of 57 inches (4’ 9”).
  • Children should ride in the back seat until the age of 13.
  • In Utah, it is illegal to leave an unaccompanied child in a vehicle if it compromises their safety.

Keeping your child safe while in the car should be one of the primary concerns of any parent. If you have any questions about how to safely use your car seat, you can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s site at www.safercar.gov/parents/ or the AAP website.

Additional Resources

  • Free car seat checks. Provided to help ensure the proper use of car seats and to reduce the risk of injury, Click It Utah, provides a list of resources where you can schedule an appointment with a Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area to get your car seat checked.
  • Spot the Tot Clings: Created to help prevent backover & frontover accidents, by giving you a reminder to look around your car before driving away. You can request your Spot the Tot Clings by emailing your name, mailing Address (US only), and quantity requested (10 max) to [email protected].
  • Heat Stroke Prevention Safety SnapLanyard: Fashioned to remind you that you have a child in the backseat, the lanyard snaps into the car seat buckle and when you are ready to buckle your child in, you simply unsnap the lanyard and put it around your neck. As you hop out of the car, the bright yellow lanyard will remind you to take your child with you. You can request lanyards (2 max) by emailing your name, address, and number requested to [email protected].
  • Choosing the Right Car Seat: Broken down to help you select the correct car seat for your child’s age, size and the type of vehicle you have, this video from the American Academy of Pediatrics will help you navigate the different car seats on the market.
  • Installing a Car Seat: Presented by the AAP to give you a basic overview to help you install your child’s car seat properly. Rear-facing car seat installation can be found here. Forward-facing car seat installation can be found here.
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