As explained in a previous article, across all the states and associated territories of the USA it is compulsory, in one way or another, for children to use some kind of child seat. To give a better idea of which regulations you have to comply with we are going to review the situation in four of the states with the most populous cities in the USA: New York, California, Illinois and Texas.
In the state of New York a child seat is compulsory for babies up to three years old, unless the child weighs more than 40 pounds and the car has neither a lap nor a shoulder/lap seat belt; and after that another seat is used for 4 -7 year-olds at least in cases where the car has no seatbelts.
The use of a seat belt is permissible for children between 8 and 15 years old (and weighing more than 40 pounds), and also children between 4 and 7 years old if the car is equipped with seatbelts.
In the state of California, children under 8 years old and less than 57 inches tall must use a child restraint system adapted to their age and height, and they must travel in the rear seats of the car (where possible).
Children between 8 and 15 years old or those taller than 57 inches are permitted to use the car’s seatbelts.
In the state of Illinois children less than 8 years old have to use an appropriate child seat. For children between 8 and 15 years old it is permitted to use the car’s seatbelts as well as for children weighing more than 40 pounds so long as they travel on a rear seat which has a lap seat belt.
In the state of Texas children up to the age of 7 and less than 57 inches tall have to use a car seat appropriate for their age and height. There is no specific consideration about the use of seatbelts for older or taller children (their use is voluntary).
It is very important to be aware that a child may only use seatbelts that are anchored to three points in the car (lap/shoulder) without a booster if they are tall enough for the diagonal strap of the belt to rest on the center of the shoulder and not on the child’s neck.