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Cars, kids and safety in Arizona

Arizona is car country, as its citizens know. We love our cars and often drive very long distances just to go to school or work. Since we are on the road a lot, we have to be cautious about safety, and that means making sure our kids are properly restrained. But how do you know for sure that your child is buckled in safely?


Can it just be a seat belt?

In a word, no. There are a lot of things to consider. First, you should determine the child's age and height.  If your child is younger than 5, they must be restrained in the vehicle by a car seat or booster.

Is the child between 5 and 8 years old and shorter than 4'9"? If so, they need to be restrained in the vehicle in some way, most commonly by a booster seat, though some vehicles come with factory-installed restraint systems. But again, just buckling them in isn't enough.

What kind of booster or car seat is acceptable?

Generally speaking, any booster or car seat is acceptable as long as it is a "legally recognized child restraint system." For an up-to-date list of car seats and boosters, check out this consumer safety blog that evaluates everything on the market.

You may also choose to rent or loan a car seat or booster. For more information, contact your local hospital or a program called "Children are Priceless Passengers" (CAPP) to find out where you can get a car seat or booster at little or no cost.

What is the penalty for not having the right seat in my car?

First, you should know that of all the children in Arizona who die each year as a result of a vehicle accident, half of them do so because they not properly restrained. That means those deaths were probably preventable if the children had been riding in appropriate car seats and boosters.

If you are pulled over and the officer determines that your child is not properly restrained, you may be fined up to $50. If you can later show the court that you have later made the proper safety adjustment to your vehicle, that fee may be waived.

If you purchase a car seat or booster for your child and are unsure of the proper installation, you can visit your local fire department or police station for help. There is also the Child Safety Seat Hotline number: 602-543-8687.

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