Summer is here, and with rising temperatures and clear, sunny skies comes travel season. For parents and babysitters, child car safety should be a priority when planning anything from family vacations to a day trip at the beach. Properly using safety seats is the only way to keep your children safe during car trips. Protect your family’s safety by following state safety regulations and purchasing the proper equipment for your child’s height, weight, and age.

The Importance of Child Car Safety

Car safety is paramount to protecting your children. Across the United States, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children. On average, nearly 600 children are injured and 5 children are killed every day in car crashes.
Similarly, in Ohio, the leading cause of death for children 4 to 7 years old is motor vehicle accidents. Child safety seats reduce the risk of death for children in motor vehicle accidents by up to 70%.
Using a booster seat rather than just a seatbelt for children ages 4 to 8 reduces the risk of injury in a car crash by 59%. Child safety seats and booster seats are vital to providing your children with the safest car ride possible.

Ohio State Laws

In Ohio, specific laws dictate the use of child safety seats and booster seats.

  • All infants and children either under 4 years old or under 40 pounds must ride in a child safety seat.
  • Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing safety seat until they have reached 1 year of age or 20 pounds.
  • Once your child is 4 years old or 40 pounds, he or she should begin riding in a booster seat.
  • Children should ride in a booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4’9” tall.
  • A highback booster seat should be used if the car’s backseat is below the top of the child’s ears.


The booster seat law was instituted in Ohio in 2009. In 2007, reports showed that only 18% of children from ages 4 to 8 were safely secured in booster seats during car trips. Booster seats are crucial to child car safety because they place the child higher on the car seat, allowing the seat belt to fit correctly across the lap and shoulders.

Installing Child Safety Seats

Child safety seats are not effective unless you take the time to install them correctly. Always read the instructions and owner’s manual before installing your child’s safety seat. You should double-check that the seat is installed tightly, the seat should never move more than one inch either side-to-side or forward. In addition, you should check to make sure you have used the correct belt path or lower anchors for the seat belt. The harness straps should also be tight around your child; there should not be any slack. If you purchase a car seat with a plastic retainer clip, it should be adjusted to be level with the child’s armpits. Finally, never use a child safety seat with cracks, missing pieces, worn straps, or one that is expired.