Car Seat Safety Program

Carseats OutsideMotor vehicle crashes are among the leading causes of death for children ages 3 to 14 years old. A minor crash or even a sudden stop can seriously injure a child who is not riding in the right type of child safety seat.

You can reduce the risk by having your child always ride in a properly fastened and secured safety seat.

When Is a Child Big Enough to Wear an Adult Safety Belt

  • Tall enough to sit without slouching, by Massachusetts law over 57 inches
  • Shoulder belt rests comfortably across the shoulder and chest, not the neck or throat
  • Lap belt fits securely, low and snug on hips
  • Sits with back and buttocks against seat
  • Knees completely bend over edge of seat
  • Feet are flat on the floor
  • Stays comfortably seated

Summary Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law as of July 10, 2008

  • Children must be in a federally approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years old OR over 57" tall.
  • The operator of the motor vehicle in which a child age 12 or under is not properly restrained shall be subject to a fine of $25
  • A police officer can stop your vehicle if a child age 12 or under is not properly restrained.
  • Children 12 and under should always ride in the back seat. Follow vehicle manufacturers' warnings about seating of children near airbags.
  • Important: Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an airbag. Never place a shoulder belt behind the back or under the arm.
  • Set a good example: 70% of children whose parents do not buckle up will not buckle up when they become adults. Wear your safety belt every time! Massachusetts law requires everyone to be properly restrained.
  • Any loose object in a vehicle can become a projectile in a crash. Use a trunk or cargo area to properly store loose items.
  • Learn to properly use your child's safety seat by reviewing the seat and vehicle manufacturer's instruction. If you still need assistance,you can find a Child Passenger Safety Technician online, call 1-877-392-5956 or TTY 617-725-0261
  • Residents are urged to make appointments with our departments child passenger safety technician. Detective Perry and Officer Nagle can be reached by email.

Use the chart on this page as a general guide to what safety seat your child should ride in.

Seat & Vehicle Manufacturers' Instructions

Type of Seat

Infants: Birth to a minimum of 1 year

Infant seat or rear-facing convertible

Toddlers: 1 to 3 years

Remain in rear-facing car seat until he/she reaches top height/weight limit of seat's manufacturer. Once child outgrows the rear facing seat, he/she is ready to travel in a forward-facing seat with harness

Young Children: 4 to 7 years

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he/she reaches the top height/weight limit allowed by seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing seat, a booster seat in the back seat of car is the next step.

Child: 8 to 12 years

Mass. Law requires your child be secured in a federally approved booster seat until 8 years old or 57 inches tall. At that time he/she is ready for an adult safety belt. The safest place for a child is in the back seat of a vehicle.