Parenting comes with an extensive list of questions: How can I get my baby to sleep? Which pediatrician should we choose? Where should my child attend school? We don’t have all the answers, but we can help with at least one very important question: Which car safety seat is best for my child? And, in particular, what are Arkansas’ laws when it comes to buckling up my child? Read on for the car seat laws in Arkansas you need to know:
Arkansas Child Safety Seat Laws
The state of Arkansas agrees that your child’s safety is important. While an accident may be unavoidable, following Arkansas’ car seat laws can minimize the severity of an accident. The Arkansas Code includes these laws to protect children and infants as they ride in vehicles. The Child Passenger Protection Act lists three requirements for minor passengers:
- If a child is less than 6 years old and weighs less than 60 pounds, they must be restrained in a safety seat.
- If a child is at least 6 years old OR weighs at least 60 pounds, they can use the car’s safety belt without the additional safety seat.
- Any driver who transports a child under the age of 15 must provide the child with a safety belt that meets federal safety standards.
If you’re driving in the state of Arkansas, you’re required to follow each of these 3 laws. Of course, these Arkansas car seat laws are only a starting point. To further protect children, the American Academy of Pediatrics provides additional guidelines for minor passengers:
Child Safety Seat Recommendations
If safety is your top priority, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following safety seat guidelines to better protect your child at each stage of life.
- Infants and Toddlers:
- Infants should ride in rear-facing seats, beginning with the drive home from the hospital. They should continue to ride rear-facing until they reach the weight or height limit allowed by the seat. Most seats allow children to remain rear-facing until at least age 2.
- 4 to 7 years:
- Use a forward-facing seat with a five-point harness, which should always be secured when the car is in motion. These seats typically accommodate children up to 60-65 pounds.
- 8 to 12 years:
- Although no longer required by Arkansas law to ride in a safety seat, children in this age range should still use a booster seat. Use the booster with the car’s lap and shoulder seat belts until the child can comfortably use the safety belts alone.
- 13 years and older:
- Use the lap and shoulder belts alone when they fit properly. The shoulder belt should lay flat on the shoulder, and the lap belt should stay low across the hips or thighs.
We understand you may have additional questions, such as…
When can my child ride in the front seat?
According to pediatric guidelines, children may begin to ride in the front seat at the age of 13 if their height and weight allow them to properly fit the car’s seat belts. Children who are younger than 13 years old should ride in the back seat.
According to Arkansas law, children must use a car safety seat until they’re at least 60 pounds or 6 years old, and a car seat should never be used in the front seat of a vehicle. Car seats are designed to only be used in the rear seats of your vehicle.
Which car seat is best?
Should you buy a specific brand or model of car seat? In short, no. There are hundreds of different child safety seat models sold in the US alone. No single brand or style is better than the rest. Instead, ask yourself the following questions to find the best seat for your child…
- First, does it fit my car?
- Next, does it fit my child?
- Finally, can I use this correctly each time my child rides in it?
If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, it’s the right seat for you. And to better ensure you’ve chosen the right car seat for your child…
Where can I check my car seat in Arkansas?
If you’re a new parent or installing a new car seat, it’s best to have a professional check that your safety seat is properly installed. Fortunately, there are several places in Arkansas that will check your child’s car seat.
- Arkansas Children’s Hospital
- The Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock will check your child’s car seat. To learn more, you can visit Safe Kids Arkansas.
- Mercy Northwest Hospital
- Mercy Northwest Hospital in Rogers offers a similar program as Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Visit Safe Kids Northwest Arkansas to learn more.
- Local Police Department
- Several police stations will be able to check your child’s safety seat. For example, both Fayetteville and Springdale’s police departments offer safety seat installation checks. Call your local police department to see whether they’re capable of checking your car seat.
- Local Fire Department
- Many fire departments are capable of checking your child’s safety seat, but they will need to have a certified child passenger safety technician on hand. Not every fire department is able to properly check, so be sure to call your local fire department first.
Do car seats have an expiration date?
Yes, car seats have an expiration date. You should never use a child safety seat that’s more than 6 years old. Learn more about determining when to replace your child’s seat in our recent post: Arkansas Guidelines for Child Safety Seats.
You may need to replace your car seat more often than you think…
Should I replace my car seat if I’ve been in a wreck?
Yes, you should absolutely replace your car seat if you’ve been involved in an accident. Even if there’s no visible damage, you should still have your child’s safety seat replaced after a wreck. In fact, insurance is responsible for replacing your child’s car seat or booster seat at no cost to you!
If you’ve been involved in an accident and are unsure how to have insurance replace your car seat or you’re having difficulty with car insurance, feel free to call Taylor King Law at 870.246.0505 or toll-free at 1.800.CAR.WRECK. We’ll be happy to discuss your options and help you understand your rights.