Booster Seat FAQ

On Aug. 2, 2012, Arizona’s new booster seat provision was enacted, requiring children younger than 8 years old or less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall to sit in a proper child safety seat, such as a booster seat, when riding in a vehicle.

 

 

I’ve heard that the requirements are for children ages 5 to 7 and less than 4 feet 9 inches tall. However, I’ve also heard that they are for kids younger than 8 years old or less than 4 feet 9 inches tall. Can you clear up the confusion?

The revised law requires children between ages 5 and 7 to ride in a booster seat unless they are 4 feet 9 inches tall. Once a child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller, they are no longer required to ride in a booster seat, regardless of age. The bottom line is that in order for a child to graduate to an adult safety belt, they have to meet either the age (8) or height (4 feet 9 inches tall) requirement.

 

How does a booster seat keep my child safe?

Boosters are designed for children who are too big for a car seat but too small to be properly protected by an adult safety belt. The seat works by elevating the child to enable the adult safety belt to properly protect them in the event of a crash. Without a booster seat, an adult safety belt typically rests against a child’s neck and stomach, subjecting the child to neck, spinal, abdominal and internal injuries in the event of a crash. With a booster seat, an adult safety belt should rest against the child’s chest and pelvis, key places that it is designed to fit in order to protect all passengers.

 

My child meets the age, but not the height requirement (i.e. an 8-year-old who is less than 4 feet 9 inches tall). Does she need to be in a booster?

Because your child meets the age requirement, she would not be required by law to ride in a booster seat. However, until she reaches 4 feet 9 inches, AAA recommends that she ride in a booster for her safety.

 

My child meets the height, but not the age requirement (i.e. a 7-year-old who is 4 feet 9 inches tall). Does he still be in a booster?

Because your child meets the height requirement, he would not be required by law to ride in a booster seat.

 

When should a child transition from a car seat to a booster seat?

Children should ride in a car seat as long as possible. Once they reach the upper limit of their forward-facing seat, they safely can transition to a booster seat. While growth varies from child to child, this move generally occurs about age 5.

 

What’s the difference between a backless booster or a booster with a high back? Which should I use and why?

Both backless and high back boosters are acceptable for use under the new law. The one you should use depends on your vehicle. If your vehicle seat has a low back and no head support, use a high back booster; if your vehicle has full back and head support, a backless booster is fine to use.

 

Does a child’s weight have any bearing on the new provision?

A child’s weight does not have any bearing on the new provision. Rather, the new provision is based on age and height. While weight varies among child passengers, the height at which a safety belt properly restrains and protects a child does not. 

 

My child hasn’t had to ride in a safety seat in more than a year. How do I get him to ride in one again?

For children who are new to boosters, or are having to readjust to riding in a safety seat, AAA recommends that parents and caregivers explain what a booster seat is and how it works to keep them safe. Many children like riding in a booster seat, as it enables them to see out the car window. Another way to get children excited about riding in a booster seat is to allow them to pick out their own.

 

I have three kids and can’t afford to purchase multiple seats. What am I supposed to do?

Booster seats cost between $15 and $20. However, there are a variety of programs that offer free or low-cost boosters to those with financial need. For more information on these programs, contact your local health department.

 

My child already rides in a booster seat. Do I need to make any changes?

If you already have a booster seat that your child rides in, you do not need to purchase another or make changes to your routine.

 

I know some adults who aren’t 4 feet 9 inches tall. Do they need to ride in a booster seat?

No, being an adult exceeds the provision’s age requirement. In addition, adults are less susceptible to injury in a crash than a child, whose bones and muscles still are developing.

 

What’s the fine for this violation?

The violation is a primary offense and carries a $50 fine. However, this penalty can be waived if a booster seat is purchased prior to the driver’s court date.

 

My vehicle has a built-in booster seat. Does that meet the new requirement?

Integrated car seats meet the new provision so long as they fit the child properly. Because these seats can vary from vehicle to vehicle, check your owner’s manual for seat specifications. One downfall of using a built-in seat as a primary restraint is that it cannot transfer to another vehicle. As such, despite having an integrated seat, you still may need to purchase a booster in the event your child rides in a vehicle without a built-in booster.

 

How do I know I am using my car seat or booster seat correctly?

Unlike other car seats, boosters do not require installation. To ensure you are using any child passenger safety seat correctly, consult a certified child passenger safety technician to conduct a car seat check. AAA’s certified technician can be reached by calling 602.241.2945.