Small children are twice as likely to suffer severe injuries or death in a car accident than adults when riding unrestrained. Nearly 40% of children killed in car accidents in 2021 were not properly restrained. With the proper use of age-appropriate car seats, parents can eliminate many injuries and fatalities for children in car accidents. Colorado’s car seat laws follow the current recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics for child vehicle restraints.
Colorado requires all vehicle passengers under the age of 15 to be properly secured when riding in a motor vehicle.
Car Seat Requirements in Colorado
Although children are allowed to sit in the front passenger seat in Colorado at one year old if they weigh at least 20 pounds, vehicle safety experts and the Colorado Department of Transportation highly recommend that children under age 13 remain seated in the backseat of a passenger vehicle. The back seat is the safest place for all passengers, especially children. Parents or caregivers may face tickets and fines if they fail to follow these Colorado car seat laws:
- Infants less than 20 pounds and less than a year old must be properly restrained in a weight-appropriate rear-facing car seat in the back seat
- Babies ages 1-3 must ride in a weight-appropriate rear-facing car seat and may legally ride in the front passenger seat (not recommended)
- Children weighing 20-40 pounds must be properly restrained in a rear-facing car seat until they are a year old
- Children weighing 20-40 pounds aged 1-3 must ride properly secured in a rear or forward-facing car seat (Remaining rear-facing for as long as possible is the safest option)
- Children ages 4-7 or until they exceed the weight limit, must ride in a weight-appropriate child’s booster seat
- Children ages 8-15 must wear a seat belt
A child over age 4 should only wear a seat belt without a belt-positioning booster seat if they are able to sit back against the seat rest with their knees bent at the edge of the seat and their feet flat on the floor. The lap belt should rest in position across the hips and not the abdomen. The shoulder belt should cross the shoulder and chest, not the neck or face.
Exceptions to Car Seat Requirements in Colorado
The state’s requirements for child restraints do not apply in some specific circumstances including the following:
- A child under age 8 in a medical emergency
- A child in a school bus or commercial carrier for a daycare center
- A child riding in a common carrier such as a passenger bus or luxury limousine
Colorado considers the violation of child restraint laws as a primary enforcement action, meaning an officer need have no other reason to pull a driver over before stopping a violator and issuing them a ticket.
Not only does following Colorado car seat laws help parents and caregivers avoid fines, but it also dramatically reduces the chances of serious injuries or death. Be sure to follow all installation instructions carefully when setting up your child’s car seat or booster. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident due to negligence or a defective product, a personal injury lawyer in Westminster can help.