Effective January 1, 2019, children under the age of two in Illinois must ride in rear-facing car seats. Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill that established the law in August 2018.
While there are no exceptions to this law, children taller than 40 inches or weighing more than 40 pounds are allowed in front-facing car seats. The new law leaves the penalties at the discretion of authorities. Illinois State Police say violators could face a $75 fine for a first offense and up to a $200 fine for a second offense.
This new law coincides with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommendations. It is estimated that 59 percent of children’s car seats are used incorrectly. It’s important for parents and guardians to choose the right car seat for their child, install the seat correctly, and understand their car seat’s warranty. According to the AAP, parents should take the following guidelines into consideration when transporting their children:
- Infants and toddlers up to age two should ride in rear-facing car seats.
- Young children, until at least age four, should ride in a car seat with a five-point harness. Weight and height should be taken into consideration and compared to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- School-age children, until at least the age of eight, should ride in a booster seat to ensure their seatbelt fits properly.
- Children should ride in the back of a vehicle until at least age 13.
These guidelines are in place in an attempt to prevent the unnecessary loss of young lives. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 35 percent of children under the age of 13 who were not buckled up in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts were killed in car accidents in 2015; however, 248 children under the age of five were saved by car seats that same year.
Under the current Illinois law, which exists under the Child Passenger Protection Act, parents or legal guardians are required to provide approved child restraint systems while transporting their children under the age of eight. An approved child restraint system is one that meets the standards of the United States Department of Transportation.