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Car Seat Recommendations

Infants/Toddlers

Type of Seat: Infant seats and rear-facing convertible seats
General Guidelines: All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing child safety seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat's manufacturer.

Toddlers/Preschoolers

Type of Seat: Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses
General Guidelines: All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their safety seat, should use a forward-facing child safety seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat's manufacturer.

School-aged children

Type of Seat: Booster seats
General Guidelines: All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their harnessed child safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.

Older children

Type of Seat: Seat belts
General Guidelines: When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection. All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.

The Rhode Island State Police and your local police department have Child Passenger Safety Technicians who can teach you to properly install your child safety seat or answer any questions you have.

Headquarters/Scituate Barracks - (401) 444-1000
Lincoln Barracks - (401) 444-1100
Wickford Barracks - (401) 294-3371
Hope Valley Barracks - (401) 539-2411

Seat Belts

Rhode Island has a primary seat belt law that was signed by Governor Chafee and went into effect on June 30, 2011, which encompasses child restraint and child passenger safety. (R.I.G.L. § 31-22-22)

  • (f) Any passenger thirteen (13) years of age or older, in any seating position, shall be transported properly wearing a safety belt and/or shoulder harness system.
  • (g) A motor vehicle operator shall be properly wearing a safety belt and/or shoulder harness system.

NOTE: Vehicle operator is responsible for compliance of sections (a) (b) and (f) for all passengers.

  • Children under age eight (8) years old, less than fifty-seven (57) inches (4 feet, 9 inches) tall and weighing less that 80 lbs. (max weight limit of a booster seat) must be transported in any rear seating position of a motor vehicle and properly restrained in a child restraint system.
  • Children between the ages of 8 through 12 as a passenger in any seating position shall be properly wearing a safety belt.
  • The fine for a child riding in the front seat or over 8 years old not in a seatbelt is $85. A violation for transporting a child not in a child restraint system requires an appearance in court.

Additional Resources

Keeping children safe in crashes: choosing the right type of restraint Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Car Seats: Information for Families for 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics
Car Seat Recommendations for Children Source: NHTSA
Basic Car Seat Safety Checklists Source: Safe Kids USA
Boosters Are For Big Kids - "The 5-Step Test" Source: SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.
Motor Vehicle Crash Seat Belt Fact Sheet Source: RI Department of Transportation