All parents should understand Colorado’s car seat laws. Following these laws can not only prevent fines and other penalties but also keep children safer when car accidents happen. Car seats and booster seats are crucial devices for parents of small children. Properly installed high-quality car seats are legally required for many children in Colorado, too. If you have children, you must understand Colorado’s car seat and booster seat laws. If the police stop your vehicle and notice any violation of these laws, you could face severe penalties.
Car Seat Size Requirements in Colorado
Generally, the safest place for a child in any vehicle is the back seat, as close to the center of the vehicle as possible. This arrangement offers the greatest level of protection in a crash, no matter where the point of impact is. However, the standard seatbelts found in most vehicles are designed for adults. If children attempt to use these seatbelts, they are both uncomfortable for the child and unsafe because they do not restrain the child effectively if an accident occurs.
Car seats effectively allow children to use the seatbelts designed for adults, albeit in different configurations. Most modern car seats will attach to the vehicle’s seat using the standard seatbelt, which attaches through the frame of the car seat. The child sits in the car seat with a harness connected to the car seat. Most car seats designed for young children include five-point harnesses that offer superior crash protection compared to standard lap and shoulder belts designed for adults. These restraints significantly reduce the risk of vehicle injuries for children involved in accidents.
Colorado’s Car Seat Laws per Age
Colorado’s car seat law uses a child’s size as the determining factor when it comes to whether a child requires the use of a car seat. Colorado law requires infants under one year of age and weighing less than 20 pounds to sit in the back seat. Children under 8 must sit in the back with an appropriately sized car seat or booster seat. Ideally, babies should ride in securely fastened rear-facing car seats. Children between one and two can upgrade to forward-facing car seats once they weigh more than 20 pounds. Technically, it is legal for any child over one year of age and weighing more than 20 pounds to ride in the front seat, which should only be done if the vehicle does not have a back seat.
Once a child reaches the age of four, they should remain in the back seat in a car seat or booster seat. Children under the age of 8 must continue to use car seats or booster seats until they can pass a 5-part test to see if they are large enough to ride in the back seat normally:
- The child should be able to sit comfortably all the way back against the seat.
- The child’s knees should bend at the end of the seat.
- The shoulder belt should rest between the child’s neck and arms.
- The lap belt should cross comfortably over the top of the child’s thighs.
- The child should be able to stay seated in this position for the entire car trip.
If a child can pass this 5-Step Test, they can safely ride without a car seat or booster seat. While some parents may allow their children to ride in the front seat at this point, it is always safest for children to ride in the back seat.
What Happens After an Accident with a Child in the Car?
If you are driving with your child in a car seat and experience an accident, their car seat will hopefully prevent them from suffering serious injuries. Once you resolve the immediate aftermath, you may wonder whether you can still use the same car seat. As a general rule, you should replace a car seat that’s been in an accident, even if the car seat appears undamaged. The impact force of the crash likely damaged the internal structure of the car seat, and it does not have the safety rating it originally had once it has been involved in a crash.
Q: What Is the Booster Seat Law in Colorado?
A: A car seat sits on top of the vehicle’s standard seat and provides a specialized harness for a small child. A booster seat is basically a riser that allows a larger child to use the lap and shoulder belt comfortably. Children should use car seats until they are large enough for booster seats, and they should keep using their booster seats until they can pass the 5-Step Test and sit normally with the standard seatbelt.
Q: What Are the Height and Weight Requirements for a Booster Seat in Colorado?
A: Colorado requires all children under the age of 8 to use appropriately sized car seats or booster seats. There is no specific height or weight requirements for booster seats. Children grow at different rates, so a five-year-old child can be larger than a seven-year-old child. Parents must use good judgment and ensure their children have appropriately sized car seats and booster seats, transitioning to new seats until they reach the age of 8 and are large enough to pass the 5-Step Test.
Q: When Can a Baby Face Forward in Colorado?
A: A rear-facing car seat is always the safest option for an infant in a vehicle. However, state law only requires rear-facing seats for children under one year of age and weighing less than 20 pounds. Once a child reaches these standards, they may use a front-facing car seat. However, they should still be secured in the back seat of the vehicle.
Q: When Can a Child Move from a Car Seat to a Booster Seat?
A: This will differ for every child. Once a child is too large to sit comfortably in a car seat, their parents may want to switch to a booster seat. This will help the child sit more comfortably and will likely offer better protection for a larger child than a car seat.
Colorado Legal Advice from the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal
It’s natural for parents to worry about traveling with their children. When accidents occur involving kids, parents are understandably going to have difficult questions pertaining to liability for any injuries their kids may have sustained. If you were recently in an accident in Colorado and need legal advice, the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal can help. Contact us today to schedule your case review with our team.