As a parent, I know that shuffling boosters and child seats can be a hassle so, before I get to the laws, let me underscore the simple point that crash data shows that children’s safety seats and boosters offer significantly better protection for your children than a regular seatbelt.
For instance, a harness-based child restraint reduced fatalities by over 50% for babies under 1. Children restrained in rear-seats were 50-75% less likely to die than those seated in the front. (see Transporting Children Safely)
Those laws? Here’s the short of it, extracted from ODOT (the Oregon Department of Transportation).
- Children must be in child safety seats until 40 lbs.
- Infants must face the rear until age 2.
- Kids over 40 lbs must use a booster until age 8 or 4 ft 9 in.
- Safety experts recommend that children should sit in rear seat until age 12.
Okay, okay, but when I can I break the kid out of the booster? ODOT says you should be able to answer “yes” to these questions.
- Can the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?
- Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat?
- Does the shoulder belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
- Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
- Can the child stay comfortably seated like this for the whole trip?