Illinois Car Seat Laws: Not As Difficult As You Think

Illinois Car Seat Laws

Parents always want what’s best for their children. An important part of that is making sure you are following Illinois car seat laws. It is crucial that your child is safely secured in his or her car seat when you are on the road.

After all, using the wrong car seat or failing to use one at all could lead to serious injury to the child.

That’s why it’s essential to understand Illinois car seat laws.

Car Seats Save Lives

Car accidents involving children happen all too often.

In fact, one study by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration found that car crashes involving children happen roughly twice a minute.

But the good news is that car seats greatly reduce your child’s chance of being injured.

For instance, that same study also found that using a car seat reduces an infant’s risk of fatal injury in a car crash by as much as 71%.

Know your Illinois Car Seat Laws

Illinois law requires everyone on the road—children and adults alike—to buckle up by using the appropriate safety restraint system for their age.

The Child Passenger Protection Act defines the Illinois car seat laws. The type of safety restraint system required depends on the age and size of the vehicle occupant.

Children under the age of 2

Under Illinois law, children under the age of 2 years old must be secured in a rear-facing child seat that meets the United States Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) safety standards. (One exception to this rule is if the child weights at least 40 pounds, or is at least 40 inches tall. In these cases, you may secure the child in a forward-facing child seat instead.)

Additional safety tips:

  • Always follow the car seat manufacturer’s harnessing instructions and height and weight limitations.
  • Never install a rear-facing car seat in front of an active airbag. Follow the recline indicator for rear-facing installation. The child’s head may need to be at least 1 inch or more below the top of a rear-facing car seat.
  • The harness straps/slots should be positioned at or below the child’s shoulder level on a rear-facing seat. Harness straps must be snug on the child and the harness clip should be at the child’s armpit level.

Children 2 years old to 7 years old

Under Illinois law, children aged 2 to 7 years old must be secured in an appropriate child seat or booster seat that meets the USDOT’s safety standards.

Additional safety tips for children age 2 years old to 4 years old:

  • Children should remain in a rear-facing safety seat for as long as possible. The exception is a child who is at the upper height or weight limit of the seat.
  • When a child grows out of a rear-facing safety seat, he or she may transition to a forward-facing seat with a harness system.
  • The seat’s internal harness system should be used until your child reaches the upper height or weight limit. The harness straps/slots should be positioned at or above the child’s shoulder level. Harness straps must be snug on the child and the harness clip should be at the child’s armpit level when using a forward-facing seat.
  •  The top of the child’s ears should not be above the top of the car seat when using a forward-facing seat.

Additional safety tips for children 4 years old to 8 years old:

  • Secure children in a forward-facing safety seat with an internal harness system until they reach the upper height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
  • When a child outgrows the forward-facing seat, he or she may transition to a belt-positioning booster seat. You must use a booster seat with both the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt, never just a lap belt.
  • The lap belt should lie low across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should rest snugly across the child’s shoulder and chest, not across the child’s neck or face. The top of the child’s ears should not be above the top of the back of a booster seat that has a built-in back.
  • If using a booster seat without a back, you must position the vehicle’s head restraint properly. The booster seat should be secured with the vehicle’s seat belt when not in use.

Children 8 years old to 12 years old

Under Illinois law, children 8 years old and older are not required to use a child seat or booster seat, but they still must use the vehicle’s regular seat belt.

Even so, the state of Illinois and child safety experts strongly recommend that children use a belt-positioning booster seat until they are tall enough to properly fit an adult lap and shoulder seat belt.

When a child is tall enough to properly fit an adult lap and shoulder seat belt, the lap belt must lie low across the child’s upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt should rest snugly across the child’s shoulder and chest, not across the neck or face.

Additionally, the child’s back and hips should rest against the back of the vehicle seat, without slouching, and his or her knees should bend easily over the front edge of the seat with the feet flat on the floor.

More Important tips to keep your child safe in the car

  • Children should use rear-facing safety seats as long as possible.
  • Children should sit in the back seat of the car at least until they are 13 years old. Never position a rear-facing car seat in front of an active air bag.
  • A used or pre-owned car seat may not be safe unless you know its history. You should make sure that all labels, parts and instructions are present.
  • Always register your car seat with the manufacturer so that you can be notified of safety recalls.
  • Do not use a car seat that is more than six years old; follow the expiration date stamped on the seat. 
  • Do not use non-regulated products with your car seat unless the car seat manufacturer allows their use. These include toys attached to the safety seat, mirrors, window shades and belt-tightening tools.
  • You should ensure all objects in the vehicle are stowed in the trunk or tied down, so they don’t become projectiles if a crash or sudden stop occurs.

How VanDerGinst Law Can Help

If you or your loved one has suffered injuries in a car accident, you should always contact a lawyer.

An experienced personal injury attorney can determine if you have a case.

If you do have a case, they help you negotiate with insurance companies so you get the best possible compensation.

Call us at 800-797-5391 for a free consultation, or send us a message online.

The law is tough, being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.

The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.