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Car Safety: Indiana Child Passenger Laws and Recommendations

Steve Wagner

Child Passenger Safety Week Buckles Up On September 17

Latest National Safety Council statistics show that more than three children a day, a total of 1,346 children under age 15, were killed in motor vehicle crashes making car wrecks the leading cause of death for children in 2015.

Experts believe that while properly securing children in safety seats is one way to keeping them safer, many state requirements, including Indiana’s, just aren’t bold enough when protecting these little lives. During Child Passenger Safety Week, September 17th thru September 23rd, Wagner Reese urges you to educate yourself and take the extra precautions needed to keep your child passenger safe.

Tips on Child Passenger Safety

(National Safety Council)

  • Take advantage of local car seat safety checks held during National Child Passenger Safety Week.
  • If you’re pregnant, schedule a car seat installation with a certified child passenger safety technician before the child is born.
  • Children should ride in the back seat at least through age 12.
  • If your kids complain about wearing seat belts, don’t negotiate; don’t drive off until they buckle up.
  • Always be consistent and wear your seat belt; driver safety belt use strongly influences whether your child will buckle up.
  • All 50 states require child seats with specific criteria; here are the child passenger safety laws for Indiana.
  • The life of a car seat is from six to eight years; recalls for child seat manufacturers for the past 10 years can be found here.
  • Airbags can save the lives of older children and adults, but they can be fatal for young children.
  • Keep passengers safe by not being a distracted driver or using your cell phone to text or talk while operating a motor vehicle.

Indiana Child Passenger Laws

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) is the State planning agency representing traffic safety. The ICJI set Indiana’s child passenger safety law to require “all children less than eight years of age to be properly restrained in a federally approved child restraint system, which can include a belt positioning booster seat. Children at least 8 years old until their 16th birthday must be properly restrained in a child restraint or seat belt in all seating positions in all vehicles.”

The current car seat recommendations from ICJI for children through 12 years of age are:

Birth – 12 Months

Your child under age one should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time

1 – 3 Years

Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4 – 7 Years

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but not up front.

8 – 12 Years

Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.

Do you know how to correctly install your child’s safety seat and know for certain that your child is in the best seat for their height and weight? Research has shown that more than half of all parents are not correctly installing child safety seats, and even more alarming, many children are still going completely unrestrained, or are riding in a seat that doesn’t fit them properly. ICJI conducts child passenger safety education and outreach activities through the Automotive Safety Program. This includes more than 100 permanent locations where families and caregivers can go to have their child restraint installation inspected by a certified child passenger safety technician. also has provided a detailed list of locations where car seat help and installation locations can be found.

Teen Drivers Continue to Account for Highest Crash Risk

Motor-vehicle crashes continue to be the No. 1 cause of death for U.S. teens.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data showed that 2015 was the second year in a row in which the number of teen motor-vehicle occupant fatalities had increased, resulting in the deaths of 2,358 teens in 2015 compared to 2,176 in 2014. Other NHTSA teen driver fatality data showed:

  • The death toll among teens 13 to 19, including pedestrian and bicycle incidents, was 2,715 in 2015 and is equivalent to more than seven deaths per day.
  • In 2015, the number of people dying in crashes involving at least one young driver totaled 4,702, a 10 percent increase over 2014.
  • And, young driver fatalities account for less than half of the overall fatalities associated with young driver crashes.
  • In 2015, there were 1,886 young driver fatalities, 975 fatalities among passengers of young drivers, 1,320 fatalities to occupants of all other vehicles and 521 non-occupant fatalities.

It is a parent’s job to help teen drivers reduce the risk of being responsible for car accidents that result in personal injuries and deaths by staying involved as their teen grows into a more experienced driver. Research shows that when a parent continues to practice driving with their teen after they pass a driver’s license test, they also help increase the chances of them avoid being involved in a serious crash.

If your child or teen has been involved in an accident that resulted in an injury or their death, Wagner Reese’s Indianapolis injury lawyers can assist you in recovering compensation for their injuries and damages. Call us today at (888) 204-8440 for more information regarding vehicular accidents.


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