In the Arkansas car seat laws, all children under the age of six and weighing under 60 pounds must be in some type of restraint system, which includes either a car seat or booster seat. In addition, children under the age of 15 must be buckled up regardless of where they are sitting and all drivers and front-seat passengers need to be buckled up whenever the vehicle is moving. This means that with few exceptions, everyone driving or riding in a moving vehicle needs to be buckled up every time.
If your child has a disability that makes sitting in a car or booster seat impossible or too difficult, you cannot just drive him or her in the car without one. You must have a written statement signed by a physician that attests to the child’s condition and you need to have this document on hand at all times in case you get stopped.
In addition, some vehicles are exempt from the seatbelt laws in Arkansas but they are limited to some public transportation vehicles such as buses and taxicabs, some extra-large vans, school buses, and certain farm vehicles. You can contact the state’s Department of Transportation for further details. It is also recommended that you learn to both install and use car and booster seats properly because many of the children who were harmed or killed in car accidents were buckled up but in an improper way. This is of utmost importance; again, the state is ready to assist you with this endeavor.
Laws for Rear-Facing Car Seats
Since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies remain in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible, the state of Arkansas recommends that they do so until they are at least one year of age and reach a minimum of 20 pounds. Rear-facing car seats do a great job of supporting a baby’s head and neck area when there is a crash. To keep babies even safer, you should always keep them in the back seat of the vehicle.
Laws for Front-Facing Car Seats
Once babies reach one year of age and weigh at least 20 pounds, you can place them in front-facing car seats. This car seat can be either a convertible car seat, which switches easily from rear-facing to front-facing, or a standard toddler car seat. The car seat should also come with a five-point harness system and should be used until the child reaches the maximum weight limit recommended by the manufacturer, which is usually 40 to 65 pounds.
Laws for Booster Seats
Booster seats are made for children who weigh a minimum of 40 pounds and can be used until they reach a height of 4’9”. However, booster seats need to be purchased and used correctly in order to keep children safe. For one thing, you have to use the right type of booster seat. The two main types include:
- Backless booster seats, which should only be used in vehicles that have sturdy and proper headrests on the seats
- Full-back booster seats, which have to be used when there are no proper headrests on the seats
Children who meet the minimum requirements still may not be ready for booster seats if they are unable to reach the floor with their feet, if their backs don’t fit comfortably against the back of the vehicle seat, and if they are too fidgety to remain in this position for the entire car ride. In other words, children need to have reached a certain maturity level in order to fit safely in a booster seat. Otherwise, they should continue to ride in front-facing car seats until they are truly ready for booster seats.
In addition, booster seats should only be secured with a lap and shoulder belt and never just a lap belt. The shoulder belt should fit across the child’s chest, never the neck area, while the lap belt should fit snugly across the thigh area, never the abdomen. This is an important rule because without a proper fit, booster seats are not nearly as safe for the child.
Height and Weight Requirements
In Arkansas car seat laws, these are the basic requirements for car seats and booster seats:
- Birth to one year of age or 20 pounds: rear-facing car seat
- Babies one year old or older and weighing at least 20 pounds.: front-facing car seat
- Children around four years of age and weighing at least 40 pounds.: booster seat
- Children who are 4’9” or taller: standard seatbelt
Of course, you are also allowed to stick to the height and weight recommendations made by the manufacturer of your particular car or booster seat. Each car seat is different and can handle babies and children of various sizes so as long as your car seat is new and meets all federal safety standards, your baby will be safe in it.
Indeed, it is recommended by the state of Arkansas that you discard any car seat that is more than six years old because it may be broken or simply won’t meet the current safety regulations recommended by the Department of Transportation. On that note, you should also never purchase a used car seat for the same reasons.
Laws for Seatbelts
Once children reach a height of 4’9”, they are legally allowed to use standard adult-sized seatbelts. Although the law doesn’t specifically prohibit older children from riding in the front seat, it is strongly discouraged; in fact, children under the age of 13 should always ride in the back seat of the vehicle. Arkansas is also a primary seatbelt law state, which means the authorities can stop you and present you with a fine just for not wearing a seatbelt even if no other violations are observed. The fine usually starts at around $25.
Although adults sitting in the back seat of the vehicle aren’t required by law to wear seatbelts, it is highly recommended in order to keep everyone safer. In fact, if the authorities stop you for a seatbelt violation, everyone in the vehicle who is guilty of the violation can receive a ticket.