Ohio has some of the least strict rules about car seats in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean you can do anything with your children. There are still rules to follow. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean you should do it.
Just keep reading our guide, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about travelling with your child in Ohio, including all the laws that apply and all the safety standards that are recommended. Ohio’s car seat laws have been updated and will be in place in 2020.
Ohio Laws for Children Under the Age of 4
Ohio only has one law for kids under 4 years old. If a child is younger than 4 years old and weighs less than 40 pounds, they must “use a child safety seat that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards.”
This means that the car seat you are using must be approved by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213, which is the standard that all car seats in the United States must meet.
This organisation certifies almost every car seat you can buy in a store. But if you want to know how to tell if your car seat has been approved, check out this article from Consumer Reports.
Even if you are using a certified car seat, you should still make sure that the manufacturer made the seat to fit your child. Each company that makes car seats will tell you how to use it and what size child it was made for. The federal government only gave approval to those car seats for kids of those ages and sizes.
Even though this is the only law in Ohio about car seats for kids under 4, we recommend reading “Why Car Seats Matter” to learn more about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) safety recommendations and why they are important.
Ohio Laws for Children Under the Age of 8
Ohio has one law for children between the ages of 4 and 7, just like it does for children under the age of 4. A booster seat is needed for kids under 8 and under 4’9″. In Ohio, a child doesn’t have to use a booster seat if he or she is 8 years old or taller than 4’9″.
But this goes against what the NHTSA says is the safest way for children to ride in cars.
Ohio Laws for Children Under the Age of 15
Ohio has a law that says kids between the ages of 8 and 15 must use a car seat. Because, unlike most states, Ohio does not require everyone to wear a seatbelt in the car. When you’re 15 years old, you don’t have to wear a seatbelt in the back seat of a car anymore.
So, what are the rules for kids under 15 in Ohio? No matter where they are sitting in the car, they have to wear a seatbelt at all times. Keep reading to learn what the NHTSA has to say about why seat belts are important and how they save lives.
Why Car Seats Matter
Car seats save lives. That’s all there is to it. But it’s just as important to know how car seats save lives as it is that they do. Because if you don’t use a car seat the right way, your child could still get hurt badly or even die.
Advantages of Rear Facing Car Seats
There is no disagreement among experts about this. It’s best to keep your child facing backwards for as long as possible. They can stay in the back seat until they turn four. The NHTSA says to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as they are still small enough to fit in it.
But why is it important? The American Association of Pediatrics has done a lot of research on how car accidents happen and how they affect kids. The truth is that if your child is facing backward and there is an accident, their head will hit the car seat.
This might not feel good, but it’s much safer than letting their neck snap forward on its own. This can break their neck, which could kill them or leave them unable to move below the neck for the rest of their lives.
Forward Facing Car Seats vs. Booster Seats
Forward-facing car seats are better than booster seats in some ways. The best thing about forward-facing car seats is that they have five-point harnesses. These spread the force of a crash over a larger area, so their small bodies can take more of the force before they get hurt badly.
This is why both the American Association of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say you should keep your child in a forward-facing car seat until they are too big for the manufacturer’s recommendations.
The truth is that your child will be safer the longer they stay in a forward-facing car seat.
Why Your Child Needs a Booster Seat
Even though Ohio doesn’t require it, if your child is under 4’9″, they should use a booster seat, no matter how old they are. To understand why, you need to know why safety groups recommend booster seats in the first place. And to do that, you have to know how seatbelts work.
How Seatbelts Work
Even though it might seem obvious, a seatbelt keeps you safe by keeping you strapped to your seat in the event of an accident. So, you won’t fly through a window or into someone else on the plane.
But how your seatbelt keeps you in place is also important. Seatbelts have two straps that go across your body, one across your chest and the other across your lap. Most of the work is done by the one that goes across your chest in case of an accident.
The upper strap goes around your rib cage, which is the strongest part of your body and best able to handle a big change in speed. If the seatbelt is anywhere else, you have a much higher chance of getting seriously hurt, which is why your child needs a booster seat.
It Keeps the Seatbelt in the Right Place
If a child under 4’9″ tall doesn’t have a booster seat, the seatbelt will rest on their neck instead of their chest. But this is bad for more than just your child. In a serious accident, you could break your child’s neck, leaving them paralysed or dead.
It’s not worth the risk; keep your child in a car seat until they are at least 4’9″ tall.
A Few More Car Seat Tips
There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to car seats, and it can be hard to know where to start. But if you get into a serious accident, you’ll be glad you did everything you could to keep your child as safe as possible.
Don’t Forget that Car Seats Expire
There is an end date on every car seat. Your child’s safety seat breaks down just like your plastic lawn furniture. What makes a lawn chair different from a car seat? The car seat was made to protect the life of your child.
Most car seats are no longer safe to use after 10 years. At this point, the plastic starts to break down, which means that your child isn’t as safe as they would be in a new car seat.
Never Reuse a Car Seat
After a moderate to severe accident, the car seat needs to be recycled. Even if you don’t see any obvious flaws, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. There could be tiny cracks on the outside or inside of the car seat’s plastic that could break the next time you get into an accident.
Even if car seats are expensive, it’s not worth taking the chance. This is also why you should never buy a used car seat from someone you don’t know and trust.
Double Check That It’s Installed Properly
Check the installation guide that came with your product. Then double-check it. Then check it three times. After that, take it somewhere to have a professional look at it. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you need to know what you’re doing.
If you want to know where you can get your car seat checked, you can go to the NHTSA website, type in your location, and they’ll tell you where to go.
If you don’t follow Ohio’s rules about car seats, you will be fined between $25 and $75. But you shouldn’t do it because of that. In the last 50 years, science has learned a lot about car seats and how to make cars safer. The science is clear: car seats save lives.
The money is a small price to pay, but if your child gets hurt badly, you’ll be paying for it for the rest of your life. If they die, you’ll have to pay that price every day for the rest of your life.