Indiana Car Seat Laws

From a child’s perspective, the car can seem like a magical place. The powerful “vroom” of the engine, the many mysterious dials and knobs, and the world zooming by outside the cool glass windows seems not just entertaining but safe. As a parent, though, it takes work to make sure your automobile is secure and child-friendly. Your focus is heightened, and your eyes are darting around the road, taking extra effort to keep yourself and your child passenger safe the entire ride. But perhaps the most important element of safety is proper car seat usage. So, along with practicing being the best driver in the world for the kid in your car, make sure to review this list of Indiana car seat laws and industry recommendations.

The Basics Rules for Car Seats 

A child’s car seat is designed to protect them during any potential car accident. For many countries (including the United States) these seats are legally required for any child under the age of 8. Additionally, there are booster seats for children between the ages of 8-12 that help to make sure a child fits properly in a seat and can be totally secured by the safety belts included in your vehicle.

It’s important to note that until a certain age, children will need a specific kind of car seat called a rear-facing car seat. These provide maximum protection and will work much more effectively than forward-facing seats. The use of these types of car seats is determined both by age and, sometimes, size.

Indiana’s Laws and Industry Recommendations

Across the board, Indiana law states that all children under the age of 8 (regardless of weight or height) need to be properly restrained in a federally approved car seat.

You can also check car seat manufacturers’ websites or packaging for the stamp of approval from federal safety commissions.

  • Birth-12 months

Legally, all children under the age of 1 must ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different kinds of rear-facing seats. Infant-only seats will only face the rear, while 3-in-1 seats will allow you to eventually face forward when your child is ready.

  • 1-3 years

It’s advised that you keep your child rear-facing as long as possible, as it’s the most effective way to ensure his or her safety. However, once your child reaches the top height and weight recommended by the manufacturer, it’s time to provide them a forward-facing seat that comes with a harness.

  • 4-7 years

Again, you’ll want to defer to your manufacturer’s weight and height limits as to when it’s time to move them to a booster seat. However, until that time you’ll want to make sure they’re facing the front with a secured harness.

  • 8-12 years

Even if they insist they’re big enough, children should be seated in a booster seat until they’re able to fit in a seat belt properly. A proper seat belt fit has the lap belt snugly lain across the upper thighs, not up on the stomach. Additionally, the shoulder belt should be snug across the shoulder, not crossing the neck or the face. And of course, your child should still be seated safely in the back seat.

There are many different types of car seats and they each have their own set of instructions and features. Check out this list of Types of Child Safety Seats from the Automotive Safety Program.

At Cline, Farrell, Christie, & Lee, we know how important the safety of your child is to you, and hope this insight into Indiana’s car seat laws helps all Hoosiers keep the children in their lives safer on the roadways.