State laws for car seats and booster seats for children

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The new year brought in new car seat and booster seat laws in Florida. But how does Alabama compare?

"If we see a child that's not in a child restraint, we can pull you over simply for that child not being in that child restraint," said State Trooper spokesman Curtis Summerville.

Alabama law says not properly securing your little ones is a primary offense.  And the rules are governed by age.

"A child, from a newborn, has to be in a rear-facing, federally approved car seat," said Summerville. "Once that child turns a year old, you can now turn that child around, forward-facing."

They stay in that seat until they are big enough for a booster seat, at around six years old.

That's the state law, though car seat companies may suggest their own recommendations.

"They always stipulate on a child's weight or height," said Summerville. "That comes from the seatbelt manufacturers themselves. but from a law enforcement perspective, we focus only on the child's age."

Though the law allows children to use just a seatbelt by age seven, parents are encouraged to use discretion in making sure the children are properly secured, which is very often the case with smaller children.

"If you have a seatbelt on that child and the belt is coming across that childs neck, this child needs to remain in a booster seat, so the seatbelt comes across the shoulder properly," said the trooper.

Fines for not properly buckling in children can be pricey, as much as one hundred dollars more than adult violations, according to Summerville. But the cost varies from county to county. But it's all in the name of safety in case of an accident.

The concern is a growing one with parents holding children in their laps while traveling.

"If you get in an accident, you're body moves forward. That child is between you and whatever you hit," Summerville explained. "If you hit the dashboard, you're going to crush the child between you and that dashboard."

Parents are encouraged to keep their children in the backseat, Summerville says it's the safest place for children. If you are placing children in the front passenger seat, you're encouraged to push the seat back as far as it can go to avoid injury in the case of airbag deployment.

Alabama law says backseat passengers over the age of fifteen are not legally mandated to buckle up.