As you head further into summer, many Illinois families pack up in the car or truck for road trips. With several kids, it can be much cheaper to drive than fly, but it is also imperative that you understand the child safety laws regarding car seats, booster seats and seat belts.

According to the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State, any child under the age of eight must be secured in the vehicle with the proper safety restraint. The law that defines this is the Child Passenger Protection Act, and it was amended at the beginning of the year to require children under two to remain rear-facing unless they are 40 inches tall and at least 40 pounds. Each age group has a different set of guidelines.

Newborn babies to two-year-old toddlers must be rear-facing. You can choose from a car seat that is permanently rear-facing or choose one that converts to the back. Parents are encouraged to follow the instructions from the manufacturer in reference to weight and height limitations.

Children who are two to four years old should remain rear facing until they are at the high end of the weight or height limit of the seat. The child is fine to transition to a forward-facing seat as they outgrow the old car seat.

Those who are four to eight years old should remain in an internal harness system until they are on the manufacturer’s high end of weight and height for your chosen seat. Once they have reached the limit, it is time to transition them to a booster seat.

From eight to 12, the instructions differ based on how fast the child grows. Once your child can fit properly in a shoulder or adult lap belt, they can transition from the booster seat to a regular seatbelt. The belt should lie across the upper thighs and the should belt should fit snuggle against the chest and shoulder.

This is intended for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.