As a Louisiana parent, you will absolutely do anything to ensure the safety of your child. Starting from the moment you bring your new infant home from the hospital, you’ll most likely need to safely drive your child from one place to another throughout the years.
Not only do you want the best protection for your children, but the State of Louisiana does also. That’s why there are strict laws in place that govern child passenger safety and the correct use of car seats in a motor vehicle.
Just like car insurance in Louisiana is in place to help protect you on the road, rules and regulations around driving your child in the car are there to keep them safe, too.
Why Car Seat Laws Matter
While you’re likely a safe driver, ultimately driving can be dangerous. Other drivers, weather, road conditions and a variety of other factors all play a part in making the act of driving an often-nerve-wracking experience. You can do your part by operating your vehicle cautiously and with awareness, but if someone else causes a wreck, you still want the passengers in your car to come out unharmed.
According to the Louisiana State Police, the leading cause of death for children is motor vehicle crashes. This is why Louisiana car seat laws exist: a properly installed car seat can reduce the risk of death in children under the age of one by 71 percent in a car accident. In toddlers, a car seat prevents 54 percent of deaths in a car crash.
You can take steps to make sure you and your children are safe in the car by learning the rules and understanding how to use your car seat correctly.
Changes over Recent Years
In 2019, Louisiana made changes to its child passenger safety law. The new law parameters are included in the table below.
|Birth to 2 years old||Ride rear facing in an infant or convertible child safety seat|
|At least 2 years old and has outgrown the rear facing seat by height or weight||Ride in a forward-facing child safety seat with an internal harness|
|4 years old and has outgrown the forward-facing seat with internal harness by height limit or weight limit||Ride restrained in a belt positioning child booster seat using a lap shoulder seat belt|
|9 years of age or has outgrown the booster seat and can pass the 5-Step Test*||Ride restrained with a lap shoulder seat belt secured correctly on the vehicle seat|
|Younger than 13 years old||Ride in the rear seat of a vehicle, when available, and properly restrained|
5 Step Test
The 5-step test is a list of parameters to determine when a child has outgrown the booster seat and can safely use the seat belt alone.
- Their knees bend on the edge of the seat with feet flat on the floor.
- Their backside is all the way back in the seat.
- The lap belt part of the safety harness is low on the hips at the top of the thighs.
- The shoulder strap crosses at the collarbone and not the neck.
- The child is able to sit properly, with no slouching or playing with the seat belt.
The Legal Implications
The Louisiana Child Passenger Safety Law is just that – the law. If you break this law, not only will you put your child’s safety at risk, you may incur fines and other penalties. Here is detailed information concerning the legal implications.
|Failure to secure a child in any type of child restraint system||This is considered a primary offense. You may incur fines of $100 for the first offense, between $250 and $500 for the second violation, and $500 plus court costs for subsequent offenses.|
|Failure to use an appropriate size or type of child restraint system||This is considered a secondary offense. You may be fined up to $100 including fees and court costs but cannot be cited unless you were stopped for a moving violation.|
|If you or a passenger are found not to be wearing a seat belt||You could be fined $50 for the first offense, $75 for the second offense, and $75 plus court fees for a subsequent offense. If the offense occurred in Orleans Parish, an additional $20 fee will be assessed for each offense.|
Types of Car Seats
Louisiana law considers three main types of car seats. These are detailed below.
Rear-Facing Car Seat
These are considered the safest option for very small children, including infants. Babies in a forward-facing car seat are more likely to suffer serious head and neck injuries.
Forward-Facing Car Seat
If you purchase a convertible car seat, you will be able to switch it from rear facing to front facing when your child is old enough and meets the manufacturers weight limits.
Booster seats are for children aged 4 and up who meet the legal weight and height specifications. You can purchase 3-in-1 or all-in-one models that transition from rear facing to front facing to booster as your child grows.
Car Seat Exemptions in Louisiana
There are not many exceptions to the child restraint laws in LA. Children who have medical or physical conditions that prohibit them from using these safety systems are excepted from the law. Those who are transporting more children under the age of 13 than there are available seat belts may legally transport a child in the back seat unrestrained.
Tips for Correct Car Seat Installation
In order for your child restraint system to work, it must be installed correctly. According to the Louisiana State Police, most car seats are not installed correctly, leading to failure in a crash. There are many resources for parents to take advantage of to make sure they are using their child seat the right way, including watching videos put out by experts.
Help is also available in Louisiana. Parents, grandparents, caregivers and anyone who drives kids around can find expert help at these locations across the state. There are more than 600 certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians to help you at these stations.
The Protective Role of Car Seats and Auto Insurance
Louisiana car seat laws are designed to keep your kids safe in the car. But did you know you can also rely on your car insurance to help you replace your car seat in an approved claim? Experts say it is best practice to never use a car seat after it has been in a car accident, so it’s important to get a new one.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends following the car seat manufacturer guidelines to know if you should replace a child safety system or not.
Freeway Insurance: Your Guide for Car Safety
Just as Freeway Insurance protects you on the road, the right child safety restraint system will protect your child. At Freeway, we are all about making sure you stay safe while behind the wheel. We also offer some of the cheapest car insurance around – even if your record is less than perfect.