Child restraint laws - when?

tarynsmum

Senior Community Member
So, I was thinking (which is always a bad idea) and I've been googling but can't seem to find my answer.

When were the first series of car seat laws put into place (and I realize it differs on a state-by-state basis)?

I found this, but it looks like the dates shown refer to seat belt laws, not child restraint laws. I'm mostly just curious. :p
 
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MomToEliEm

Moderator
I was curious as to what the law actually said so I pulled up an IIHS report from 1978
http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr1307.pdf

It says the tennessee law required children under the age of 4 to be restrained while riding in vehicles, but it also had an alternate provision allowing people to hold children in their laps in lieu of using restraints.
 
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tarynsmum

Senior Community Member
OK, so

1985: Final state passes child passenger safety law. All states plus District of Columbia and
Puerto Rico have requirements, but many have limitations, such as applying only to
parents or guardians or allowing lap belt use as an alternative for very young children.
All are primary laws (allowing police to stop a vehicle for the violation).

My question is, most CRS laws were created prior to or around 1985. Am I incorrect to assume that most haven't been updated since then, or have they? Is this when the standard "1year/20lbs/3years & 30lb booster" minimums came from? I'm trying to establish who's the chicken and who's the egg, I guess (meaning, what came first, the law and the manufacturers followed, or did the manufacturer make the seat first, and the laws at the time reflected those models). Does that make sense at all?
 

tarynsmum

Senior Community Member
I was curious as to what the law actually said so I pulled up an IIHS report from 1978
http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr1307.pdf

It says the tennessee law required children under the age of 4 to be restrainted while riding in vehicles, but it also had an alternate provision allowing people to hold children in their laps in lieu of using restraints.

This stuff is way more interesting than the work I'm supposed to be doing ;)
 

MomToEliEm

Moderator
My question is, most CRS laws were created prior to or around 1985. Am I incorrect to assume that most haven't been updated since then, or have they? Is this when the standard "1year/20lbs/3years & 30lb booster" minimums came from? I'm trying to establish who's the chicken and who's the egg, I guess (meaning, what came first, the law and the manufacturers followed, or did the manufacturer make the seat first, and the laws at the time reflected those models). Does that make sense at all?

I think what came first was that manufacturers made seats that kept kids in their seats and raised them up so they could see out the window (not very safe). The safety regulations agencies did studies and found that kids could be made safer. They set regulations on how seats should be made and thus the manufacturers made safer seats. Once there was a good supply of these seats in the market and the law makers were pressured, the laws were enacted. These initial laws were probably pretty generic and just stated "use a child restraint" up to a certain age. Rearfacing past 6 months and boosters weren't very common in the 90's.

Most states have modified their laws since they were initially made. Florida might be one of the few that hasn't changed much since their law still only says "3 and younger". Most have added higher age limits to require booster usage. A few have added some rearfacing limits of 1/20 pounds, though many states just indicate to follow manufacturer directions.

I think the main influence in what the laws allow are the federal regulations that the manufacturers have to comply with. When they require 1 year/20 pounds, that is what the seat manufacturers go with. Until those regulations change, I doubt we will see much deviation from what is currently there.

So to answer your initial question, I think the seat came first, and then the laws. The driving force though is the federal regulations the manufacturers have to comply with to get their seats on the market. If we want changes to any laws, we need to get the carseat regulations changed so that manufacturers will be forced to change.
 

LISmama810

Admin - CPS Technician
I think the main influence in what the laws allow are the federal regulations that the manufacturers have to comply with. When they require 1 year/20 pounds, that is what the seat manufacturers go with. Until those regulations change, I doubt we will see much deviation from what is currently there.

So to answer your initial question, I think the seat came first, and then the laws. The driving force though is the federal regulations the manufacturers have to comply with to get their seats on the market. If we want changes to any laws, we need to get the carseat regulations changed so that manufacturers will be forced to change.

There are no federal regulations regarding car seat use, just manufacture and performance.

Seats have already gone beyond 1 year/20 lbs without any change in regulations. Most still ALLOW FF at 1/20, but most allow RF far beyond that. Some seats also have stricter guidelines for FF (36", 2 years, 22 lbs, etc.)
 

mom of six

Active member
FVMSS 213 (the federal regulation of child restraint devices) did not come out until 1981. So even though states had laws prior to that about using child restraints those restraints were not regulated until then.
 

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