It is well known that all drivers and passengers in motor vehicles all over the country must wear seat belts. However, seat belt systems in cars accommodate adults, not children or infants. So to ensure the safety of children, the general laws of Massachusetts spell out the rules surrounding the mandatory use of car seats for infants and children.
Section 7AA essentially requires restraints (i.e., car seats) for any child under the age of 8. Parents must consult the manufacturer’s instructions in order to properly secure the restraint in the car. And although the law does not specifically state this, there are different devices for different ages, heights and weights. For instance, Massachusetts law does not specify that infants must be in rear-facing car seats, but this is important to know if you want your infant to be safe on the roads. To make it clear prior to purchase, most manufacturers put the height and weight restrictions right on the box – so be sure to consult these requirements before investing in a seat.
The typical progression as the child grows is:
- Infant rear-facing car seat
- Five-point harness front-facing car seat
- Booster seat
After the child reaches the age of 8 or is more than 57 inches in height, they can then use the regular seat belts installed in the vehicle as long as they fit properly and comfortably.
Interestingly enough, the consequences for violating this law is only a $25 fine. But parents should realize that the price for not properly securing your child in your vehicle can be much, much higher in terms of injuries. Car accidents often result in serious injuries in adults, and unrestrained or improperly restrained children are at a much higher risk of injury than their adult counterparts. Life-long injuries and even death can result, so it is wise to properly secure your children in your vehicle at all times.