A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in Indiana
- All children under age 1 who weigh less than 20 pounds are required to ride on a rear-facing seat.
- Children who are 1 year or older and weigh at least 20 pounds can ride on a forward-facing car seat.
- Troopers recommend that 40 pounds or more is the right weight for a booster seat.
- According to the law children 8 years or older are allowed to ride while wearing only a seat belt.
Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in Indiana
In Indiana, all children under age 1 who weigh less than 20 pounds are required to ride on a rear-facing seat. However, it is safe for your child to remain in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. As of today, this type of seat can support children of up to 30-35 pounds. This means your child may likely exceed the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements when closer to age 4, after which he or she can safely graduate to the next seat. A rear-facing seat should always be secured in the back seat and away from a functional airbag.
Forward Facing Car Seat Laws in Indiana
Children who are 1 year or older and weigh at least 20 pounds can ride on a forward-facing car seat. However, most children exceed the rear-facing requirements at age 4, therefore according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, the appropriate age range for a forward-facing seat is 4 to 7 years. The seat should have an internal harness system and be federally approved. Indiana troupers recommend children should remain in this seat until they weigh 40 pounds or more. Your child can also graduate to the next seat if he or she has exceeded the car seat manufacturer’s height and weight requirements. Forward-facing seats should be secured in the back seat in accordance with the accompanying manual. Also, for a perfect fit, the harness straps should snugly fit across the child’s thigh and chest areas.
Booster Seat Regulations in Indiana
Legally, children who weigh at least 30 pounds or more can sit on a booster seat. However, this is highly discouraged by the troopers who insist 40 pounds or more is the right weight for a booster seat. As a parent, you should only transition your child to a booster seat once the forward-facing maximum weight and height limits set by the manufacturer have been exceeded. This means they may be ready to transition when between the age of 7 to 13 years. Most booster seats can support children of up to 80 pounds who are less than 4’9”, so a child can remain in this seat as long as he or she is within the set limits. A booster seat raises your child so that regular car seat belts can fit properly. Most experts recommend using a booster seat in the rear of the car together with shoulder belts and lap belts to maximize safety.
Requirements for children to use the front seat in Indiana
The car seat law in Indiana does not mention anything concerning front-seat requirements. But according to the law, children 8 years or older are allowed to ride while wearing only a seat belt. This means they can legally sit either in front or in the back seat as long as they are secured with a seat belt. However, most experts agree the back seat of the car is the safest for children and they should only sit in the front when 13 years or older. Also, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute recommends children should only use a seat belt once they fit properly. This typically happens at a height of 4’9”, and a proper fit means the shoulder belt lies snug across the chest and the lap belt crosses the upper thighs.
Law on Children under 16 years in Indiana
All children under this age must ride using a seatbelt or the appropriate child restraint device.
Law on Leaving a Child in a Car in Indiana
There is no law regarding leaving children in cars. However, as a parent, you should protect your child whenever possible to avoid unnecessary situations that may occur.
Law on Smoking in the Presence of Children inside a Car in Indiana
Currently, you are not prohibited from smoking in a car while in the presence of children. However, the state is trying to change this law so that no smoking will be allowed inside cars that are transporting children.
Law on Taxis in Indiana
Taxis are not required to comply with the state’s car seat laws.