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Child Car Seat Safety in Delaware

Last updated: April 5, 2016

Using the wrong type of child car seat can be deadly. A young child’s body cannot withstand the force of impact in a car accident in the same way an adult or older child can. This can result in serious injuries in the event of a car or truck accident.

According to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety, 4 out of 5 child car seats are not installed correctly. In addition, parents are often confused by the various state requirements with respect to height/weight and allowable types of car seats.

Delaware Child Car Seat – Legal Requirements

child car seat safetyUnder Delaware law, Title 21 of the Delaware Code § 4803, Child Restraint in Motor Vehicles, children under the age of 8 and children weighing 65 pounds or less must be seated in a federally approved child car seat or booster seat appropriate for the child’s weight and height.

Children weighing 65+ pounds and between the ages of 8 and 16 must wear a seat belt.

Children who are 65 inches or shorter and under the age of 12 cannot ride in front seats. However, there are some exceptions. Children may ride in the front seat of vehicles which do not have a back seat.

Delaware Office of Highway Safety Child Car Seat – Recommendations

The Delaware Office of Highway Safety recommendations mirror those of the National Highway & Traffic Safety Administration.

Babies and Infants (Under the Age of 1) – Must ride rear facing.

Toddlers (Ages 1 through 3) – Should ride rear facing for maximum safety. Follow the car seat manufacturer guidelines regarding height and weight limits.

Children ages 4 through 7 – Should ride forward facing with a harness, until they reach the maximum height and weight limits indicated by the car seat manufacturer. Thereafter, they should be transferred to a booster seat that fits their height/weight, per the instructions.

Children ages 8 through 12 – Should remain in a booster seat until they reach the maximum height and weight limits indicated by the car seat manufacturer or until they are at least 65 pounds, large enough to wear a seat belt.

Proper Use of a Seat Belt for a Child – 3 Things to Know

Proper Placement of Seat Belts: Seat belts should be placed across the shoulder and chest, not near the neck or face, and the lap belt must lie across the upper thighs, not the stomach. Failure to ensure proper seat belt placement can result in serious injuries in the event of a car accident, especially for children.

Expiration Dates: Parents should check for expiration dates of car seats. Oftentimes, parents reuse car seats for multiple children or use old car seats from friends, family members, etc. In some instances, materials used to make car seats may degrade, especially after many years.

Recalls: At least once per year, parents should check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure their child’s car seat has not been recalled. Just this year (January 2016), 70,000 Britax infant car seats were recalled due to potential failure of the car seat handle. The manufacturer received over 70 reports of failures. Click here for the CPSC website page which lists car seat recalls for the past decade.

Child Car Seats, Ensure Proper Fitting in Delaware

Delaware residents can schedule free car seat fitting appointments with the Delaware Office of Highway Safety in Wilmington, Dover and Lewes. Car accidents can and do result in serious injuries to children. Parents should take advantage of these free appointments. The Delaware Office of Highway Safety website lists other locations where parents can get car seat checks.

Wilmington Dover Lewes
Wilmington DMV
By Appointment only
Tuesdays & Thursdays
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Wednesdays 4:00 – 8:00 PM
Dover DMV
By Appointment Only
Tuesdays 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Wednesdays 4:00 – 8:00 PM
Delaware State Police
Troop 7 – Lewes

By Appointment Only

About Knepper & Stratton

The Delaware law firm, Knepper & Stratton, has offices throughout Delaware, in Wilmington, Newark and Dover. Our lawyers specialize in car and truck accident cases. For a free consultation, please call (302) 658-1717.

Knepper Stratton Delaware Car Accident Lawyers

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