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A Guide to Arkansas Car Seat Laws

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. children, according to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. You want to keep your children safe, and so does the state of Arkansas. That’s why Arkansas Code includes laws about seat belts and car seat governing how children and teenagers can ride in vehicles. 

Arkansas Transportation Laws For Children

  • Arkansas state law requires all children under 16 to be properly secured in a vehicle. 
  • Children under six and weighing less than 60 pounds must ride in a car seat.
  • A booster seat is appropriate for children ages 5-8 and under 4’9”.
  • Kids ages 6-15 and weighing 60 pounds or more must wear seat belts.
  • It’s illegal to smoke in a car with a passenger under the age of 14.

Driving without a seatbelt is a primary offense in Arkansas, which means an officer can pull you over simply because they suspect that you or a passenger isn’t wearing a safety belt. If a child is not restrained properly, you can be fined between $25-$100.

Best Practices for Child Transportation Safety

Children 13 and over are able to safely ride in the front seat, if they are at least 80 pounds and 4’9”.

Babies and toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seats as long as possible. Usually by the age of three, most children are ready to switch to forward-facing seats. They should stay in these forward-facing seats until they hit the height and weight restrictions of the seat. When your child outgrows their forward-facing car seat, they should ride in a booster seat. Some kids may need a booster until the age of 12.

For more thorough guidelines, check out this list from University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Install & Use The Car Seat Correctly

Often experts say they see car seats that are improperly installed or children who are buckled into seats incorrectly.

  • Don’t fasten seatbelt over thick winter coats. The straps may not be secure enough to hold your child’s body in place.
  • Get a new car seat every six years, even if it has never been involved in a crash.
  • Replace the car seat if it is involved in an accident where an airbag deploys, there is more than minor damage to the vehicle, or the door next to the car seat is damaged.
  • Don’t purchase a car seat second-hand, unless you’re sure it’s newer than six years old and has never been involved in a crash. 
  • Install rear-facing seats at the right angle. It should be at a 45-degree incline for infants and a 30-degree incline for older babies.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has installation tips and car and booster seat safety ratings.

You can make an appointment at Arkansas Children’s Hospital or at the Fayetteville or Springdale police stations to have an expert check your child’s car seat and installation.

Make sure your family and vehicle are protected in the event of a collision. Speak with a local agent to ensure that your car insurance policy is up-to-date and meets your coverage needs.