In April 2022, Maryland lawmakers passed SB 176, a bill that will upgrade the state’s law that protects children traveling on our roadways. The new law goes into effect on October 1, 2022, and states that children must be kept rear-facing until at least two years of age, unless the child meets or exceeds the height and weight on the seat’s guidelines. Having a seat that properly fits the child is also another important consideration. SB 176 brought Maryland in line with laws in 16 other states (CA, CT, IL, LA, ME, NE, NJ, NY, NV, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, VA, WA) and the District of Columbia.
What should I know before purchasing a car safety seat?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides information that allows consumers to identify child safety seat restraints that affect ease of use.
What should I know about installing my child’s car safety seat?
- Always refer to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions for specific directions on properly using the car safety seat.
Partners for Child Passenger Safety features video clips, highlighting rear-facing seats, forward-facing seats, booster seats and LATCH.
- Check to make sure your child is using the right car safety seat.
Make sure your child’s safety seat is the correct seat for the child’s height and weight and is positioned in the right direction. For example, infants can ride rear-facing up to 24 months old. It is safest for infants to ride rear-facing as long as possible up to the highest weight allowed by the manufacturer of the safety seat. Some seats can be used up to 30-35 pounds rear-facing. In general, most forward-facing seats with harnesses that are manufactured in the U.S. can be used until the child reaches 40–50 pounds. It is very important to read the car seat manual to determine if the seat fits your child.
- Check to be sure the harness strap and harness clip are snug.
The harness strap should be adjusted so that only one finger can be slipped underneath the strap at your child’s chest. The harness clip should be fastened at armpit level.
- Move children to a booster seat when they outgrow the toddler seat.
Most forward-facing or toddler seats with harnesses can be used until your child reaches 40–50 pounds or when the child’s shoulder is above the top harness strap slot. Check your car seat labels for maximum weight and height. At that time it is recommended that your child move to a booster seat and utilize the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt. The booster seat will help your child wear the lap and shoulder belt correctly and sit more comfortably. Most booster seats can be used until your child reaches 60–100 pounds or until the lap/shoulder belt alone fits your child correctly.
Where can I get my child's car safety seat inspected?
The following places have personnel trained to check your child's car safety seat.
- Fitzgerald Annapolis Auto Mall Child Safety Seat Checks Call 301-548-4847
- Maryland Kids in Safety Seats (KISS) Sign up for virtual and in-person car seat safety checks.
What is Maryland's Child Passenger Safety Law?*
Maryland's Child Passenger Safety Law requires that children under 8 years old be in a car safety seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. However, these are minimal standards and children should remain in their child safety seat until they can fit the lap and shoulder belt correctly. Check your safety seat manufacturers' instructions for weight and height limits as they can vary.
The following links provide more information:
- Car Seats and Booster Seats
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- Maryland Kids In Safety Seats
- Maryland Law
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Zero Deaths Maryland
For more information on child safety seats or other injury prevention programs in Anne Arundel County, call 410-767-6016