A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in Vermont
- Vermont law requires all children younger than 1 year and those who weigh less than 20 pounds to ride on a federally approved rear-facing seat.
- Children can graduate to forward-facing seats once they outgrow the weight and height limits of their rear-facing seats.
- Children can ride on booster seats once they outgrow the forward-facing seat requirements.
- The law allows children to use lap-shoulder belts only when they reach age 8.
- The AAP recommends children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.
Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in Vermont
Vermont law requires all children younger than 1 year and those who weigh less than 20 pounds to ride on a federally approved rear-facing seat. However, these are minimal guidelines, and it’s best to follow AAP’s (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendation which says children should ride rear-facing for a minimum of 2 years or until they exceed the manufacturer’s topmost weight and height requirements. The rear-facing position offers the best possible protection since the seat cradles the baby’s large head and fragile body in the event of an accident. Typically, newborns will start in infant-only seats, which also doubles as a portable infant carrier. Once they outgrow these seats, they should switch to convertible seats which allow them to stay rear-facing for a longer period (up to age 4) due to their higher weight limit (up to 40 pounds). Rear-facing seats should be secured in the back seat and away from functional airbags.
Forward-Facing Car Seat Laws in Vermont
Children can graduate to forward-facing seats once they outgrow the weight and height limits of their rear-facing seats. Typically, this happens when they weigh 30-40 pounds, depending on the weight limit of the seat. Secure your child with a seat that is equipped with a 5-point harness. The straps should be adjusted to fit the child’s strong shoulders and hips. This is important because the straps help in spreading the crash forces across the stronger parts and away from the child’s fragile body parts (neck, spine, and head). Parents can opt to buy a forward-facing only seat, but those with convertible seats can turn them to face forward once their children have outgrown the rear-facing position. Forward-facing seats can support children of up to 65 pounds, therefore children can safely ride on them until age 7, depending on their growth rate. Children can be considered to have outgrown these types of seats when the top of their ears is at the same level as the top of the seat or when the shoulders are higher than the topmost harness slots.
Booster Seat Regulations in Vermont
Once children outgrow the forward-facing seat requirements, they can ride on booster seats installed in the rear of the car. Typically, a child should weigh a minimum of 40 pounds before graduating to a booster seat. Booster seats are used to raise a child so that they fit correctly in regular safety belts. A correct fit means the lap belt lies flat across the hips and upper thighs, and the shoulder strap snugly lies across the middle of the chest area. Parents have the option of choosing between a high back and no back booster seat. High back booster seats are used to provide support to the child’s neck and head when the back seats are not equipped with headrests. A no-back is considered adequate if headrests are available. Most booster seats are designed to support children of up to 80 pounds or more. This means children can safely ride on them until age 12, even though the law allows children to use lap-shoulder belts only when they reach age 8. However, height is the most important factor when it comes to graduating to seat belts. This is because seat belts are designed to fit anyone 4’9” or taller. Anyone shorter may be at risk of neck and stomach injuries due to misplaced seat belt straps. Also, before graduating to seat belts, a child should be able to sit with his back straight against the back of the seat and with knees bent at the edge of the seat without slouching.
Requirements for children to use the front seat in Vermont
The law does not cover the specific requirements for children to sit in the front seat. The AAP recommends children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat. The rear seat is considered to be generally safer, and they also don’t have passenger-side airbags which can be lethal to children when they deploy. Also, Vermont law says rear-facing seats should never be placed in front of an active airbag.
Car Seat Law regarding Children of ages 8-15 years old in Vermont
The law requires children in this age group to ride while wearing safety belts.
Law on leaving a child in a car in Vermont
There is no law regarding leaving children unsupervised inside vehicles. We do not recommend leaving a child unattended in your vehicle for any length of time.
Law on Smoking in a car with a child in Vermont
It is illegal to smoke in a car with child passengers.
Car Seat Law Exemptions in Vermont
Children riding in vehicles that are regularly used to transport passengers for hire are exempted from complying with the state’s car seat laws. Also exempted are children riding in vehicles manufactured without seat belts and those riding with someone authorized to evacuate persons from a stricken area.
Law on Car Seat Replacement in Vermont
There are no laws that cover car seat replacement. The National Transport and Safety Authority recommend replacing car seats after a moderate or major car crash. Also, remember to check your car seat’s expiry date.
More Vermont Laws