In the state of Idaho, it is a requirement that all children under the age of 13 ride in the back seat of the vehicle and every child must have either a car seat or a seatbelt, depending on his or her age and size. Many of the recommendations made in Idaho car seat laws are basic guidelines to follow and they essentially ask that all parents follow the exact instructions that come with the car seats they’ve purchased and keep children in those seats for as long as possible.
The state also recommends that parents use only brand-new car seats and never purchase them used because many older car seats simply don’t fit the state requirements and might therefore be unsafe to use. If you need your car seat inspected before using it, you can do so for free at various locations throughout the state, which are listed here.
Buying a new car seat and making sure that you obey all of the instructions that come along with it will keep your child safe every time that you get in the car, especially if you follow the basic recommendations listed below.
Laws for Rear-Facing Car Seats
As with more and more states nowadays, the state of Idaho is recommending that all children under two years of age be secured in DOT-approved car seats that face the rear of the vehicle. The car seat manufacturer itself will recommend how long you should keep the child in that seat but if you make sure that the child is rear-facing for two years, he or she will be much safer.
Naturally, if your child is heavier or taller than average, he or she may need to be put in a front-facing car seat before the two years are up. However, keeping your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible is highly recommended. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently made this recommendation and it is being applied to more and more states every year.
Laws for Front-Facing Car Seats
Once your child reaches the height and weight recommended by the car seat’s manufacturer, you can place him or her in a front-facing car seat. As a general rule, children should remain in a front-facing car seat until they are roughly four years old and weigh 40 to 65 pounds. In addition, the top tether of the car seat should be utilized.
Once again, if your child is heavy or tall for his or her age, you may be able to switch to a booster seat at this point but you still need to pay attention to the heights and weights recommended by the manufacturer of the car seat that you’re using. This is the surest way to make sure that your child is always safe.
Laws for Booster Seats
Once children reach four years of age, they are likely ready for booster seats. These seats come in two main types: a high-back booster seat, which should always be used if your vehicle has no headrests; and a backless booster seat, which should only be used if your vehicle has an appropriate headrest. Both of these booster seats need to be secured with a lap and shoulder belt, never just a lap belt.
In addition, booster seats need to be used until your child reaches a height of 4’9”, which is usually around age eight. If your child is not fully secured when buckled into the booster seat, you may have to switch back to a forward-facing car seat for a bit longer.
Height and Weight Requirements
All height and weight recommendations listed in the owner’s manual provided by the car seat manufacturer should be utilized so that the child is safe for as long as possible. There are very few actual height and weight requirements in the state of Idaho except for the following:
- Front-facing car seat until the child reaches 40 pounds
- Booster seat until the child reaches 4’9”
- Standard seatbelt once the child reaches 4’9”, which includes making sure that it is being used properly
When determining the “do”s and “don’t”s regarding car seat laws in Idaho, using common sense is usually enough to keep your children safe. If you have a newer car seat and you’re following all of the height and weight recommendations listed by the manufacturer, your children will be safe for many years to come.
Laws for Seatbelts
Once children reach 4’9”, they can be secured with just standard seatbelts. Again, those under 13 should be kept in the back seat of the vehicle at all times. If you’re curious if your child is ready to get rid of the booster seat and move onto a regular seatbelt, ask yourself the following questions:
- Can my child sit back against the seat back of the vehicle?
- Do my child’s feet touch the floor?
- Do my child’s legs fit comfortably over the seat and are his or her knees bent over the edge of the seat?
- Can my child sit in this position during the entire trip?
There are times when going back to a booster seat is the best course of action for your child so if you’ve answered “no” to any of these questions, this is exactly what you may need to do.
Car seatbelts should also fit properly in order to be effective, which means the lap belt should lie across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt should fit snugly across the chest. In addition, the state of Idaho requires that everyone who is driving or riding in a moving vehicle be secured by either car seats or seatbelts every time.
Idaho is a primary seatbelt law state, which means that the authorities can stop you and give you a ticket just because you aren’t wearing a seatbelt, which applies to all adults in the vehicle. If they stop you for something else, they can then fine you if there are passengers under the age of 18 who are not wearing seatbelts. The fine for the first offense starts at $10 and goes up from there. The laws also apply to any person driving or riding in any seat in the vehicle.