Car accidents are a leading cause of fatalities among children in the United States, as highlighted by a study published in the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine. It’s only natural for you, as a parent, to prioritize your child’s safety while on the road. Fortunately, the state of Arkansas shares this concern and has implemented laws to ensure the well-being of children and teenagers when traveling in vehicles.
Understanding Arkansas Transportation Laws for Children
Arkansas state law mandates that all children below the age of 16 must be properly secured in a vehicle. Let’s take a closer look at the key requirements:
- Children under the age of six and weighing less than 60 pounds are required to ride in a car seat.
- Kids between the ages of 5 and 8, who are under 4’9″ in height, should use a booster seat.
- Children between the ages of 6 and 15, weighing 60 pounds or more, must wear seat belts.
- Importantly, it is illegal to smoke in a car in the presence of a passenger under the age of 14.
It’s essential to note that driving without a seatbelt is considered a primary offense in Arkansas. This means that law enforcement officers have the authority to pull you over if they suspect that you or a passenger is not wearing a safety belt. Failing to properly restrain a child can result in fines ranging from $25 to $100.
Best Practices for Ensuring Child Transportation Safety
While the legal requirements offer a solid foundation for child safety, there are additional steps you can take to enhance the well-being of your little ones on the road. Consider the following guidelines:
Age and Weight Considerations:
- Children aged 13 and above, weighing at least 80 pounds and measuring 4’9″ in height, can safely ride in the front seat.
- Babies and toddlers should remain in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. Typically, by the age of three, most children are ready to transition to forward-facing seats. They should continue using these seats until they outgrow the height and weight restrictions.
- Once your child outgrows their forward-facing car seat, they should transition to a booster seat. Some children may even need a booster seat until they reach the age of 12.
Installation and Proper Usage of Car Seats:
- Avoid fastening seatbelts over thick winter coats as they might not secure your child’s body adequately.
- Replace your car seat every six years, regardless of involvement in a previous accident.
- If your car seat is involved in an accident where an airbag deploys, the vehicle sustains significant damage, or the door adjacent to the car seat is affected, it’s time to replace the seat.
- Second-hand car seats should be avoided unless you are certain they are less than six years old and have not been involved in a crash.
- Ensure that rear-facing seats are installed at the appropriate angle. Infants should have a 45-degree incline, while older babies should be positioned at a 30-degree incline.
For more comprehensive guidelines, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences provides a detailed list of recommendations.
Installing and Using Car Seats Correctly
Experts often encounter car seats that are incorrectly installed or children who are not properly buckled in. Here are some essential tips to remember:
- It’s crucial not to secure seatbelts over thick winter coats as the straps may not provide sufficient security.
- A new car seat should be purchased every six years, even if it has never been involved in an accident.
- If your car seat has been in an accident where an airbag deployed, the vehicle suffered substantial damage, or the car seat’s adjacent door was damaged, it’s time for a replacement.
- Buying second-hand car seats is discouraged unless you are certain they are less than six years old and have not experienced a previous crash.
- Ensure that rear-facing seats are correctly installed at either a 45-degree incline for infants or a 30-degree incline for older babies.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers helpful installation tips and safety ratings for car and booster seats.
You can also seek assistance from experts to check the proper installation of your child’s car seat. Make an appointment with the Arkansas Children’s Hospital or visit the police stations in Fayetteville or Springdale for this service.
Exclusive Car Seat Discount with Garrity Traina Insurance
When you entrust your insurance needs, such as auto, home, life, farm, and more to Garrity Traina Insurance of Arkansas, the perks of your Farm Bureau Federation membership extend to benefits like the Infant Car Seat Program. With this program, starting at just $15, you can purchase a car safety seat that prioritizes your child’s well-being.
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By adhering to Arkansas’s transportation laws and following best practices for child transportation safety, you can ensure that your little ones stay secure on every journey. Trust Garrity Traina Insurance to provide the essential coverage your family needs, while also prioritizing your child’s safety on the road.