Liability of a carpool

mping

New member
My 9 yo is going on a Girl Scout field trip this week and there will be four drivers for all the girls. They are all in 4th grade so 9-10 years old. There are probably 2-3 of them that I would safely say probably 5 step. I'm sending my dd with a bubble bum but it's very likely no one else will be using a booster at all. Out of curiosity, what is the liability on this? If something were to happen and it was shown that the girls aren't safely and properly buckled, could the drivers be held liable?


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Nedra

Car-Seat.org Ambassador
It depends on the state, I believe. In my state, children must remain in a booster or car seat until 8 years old unless they are already a certain height (I think it is 4'9"). So as long as the kids are all over 8 years old (even if they don't 5-step) all they need is to be buckled in -- there's no booster requirement at that age.

If the girls weren't buckled at all, then yes, the drivers could be held liable. Seat belts are legally required for all passengers of all ages and the driver is responsible for making everyone buckle up.

ETA: just looked it up --> in my state, drivers are ticketed for unbelted passengers 14 or under. Passengers 15 and older are ticketed directly.


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Keeyamah

Active member
Yeah, here boosters are only required until 6 yrs old, so no liability at all, so long as everyone has a seat belt. (Though I think if all the belts are taken in a truck, it's ok to ride unrestrained in the bed here as well....)
 

katymyers

Active member
Yeah, here boosters are only required until 6 yrs old, so no liability at all, so long as everyone has a seat belt. (Though I think if all the belts are taken in a truck, it's ok to ride unrestrained in the bed here as well....)

I thought they made that illegal statewide.... I could be mistaken [emoji57] wishful thinking or something. But yeah, no liability as long as everyone is belted. I walk past the daycare vans everyday walking my boys to and from school and the only kids in boosters are the kindergarteners [emoji33].


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mping

New member
That's what I thought. I'm in IL. Guess I should check the law.


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mping

New member
I just looked it up. It says under the age of 8. It's not even including age 8! That's nuts! My 7 yo is 39lbs so that means in 3 months when he turns 8, he'll be legal to sit with just a seatbelt. [emoji87][emoji15]


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Dillipop

Well-known member
Some states have wording that implies that once the booster law no longer applies by age, the child still has to properly fit the seatbelt. Which imo, is a roundabout way of saying that if they don't fit, then they need a booster.
 

Keeyamah

Active member
I thought they made that illegal statewide.... I could be mistaken [emoji57] wishful thinking or something. But yeah, no liability as long as everyone is belted. I walk past the daycare vans everyday walking my boys to and from school and the only kids in boosters are the kindergarteners [emoji33].


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Huh, my daycare is exempt from booster law. When my oldest started private kindy there, I had to add it to the transport clause that he would have his booster for field trips. They have both the private kindy and offer transport to schools that are outside of the busing system for where daycare is (if that makes sense) and they don't have to use car seats or boosters.
 

katymyers

Active member
Huh, my daycare is exempt from booster law. When my oldest started private kindy there, I had to add it to the transport clause that he would have his booster for field trips. They have both the private kindy and offer transport to schools that are outside of the busing system for where daycare is (if that makes sense) and they don't have to use car seats or boosters.

Do they have a bus or a van? I thought buses were exempt (and they're are a couple daycares in town with buses) and vans weren't.


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Nedra

Car-Seat.org Ambassador
I just looked it up. It says under the age of 8. It's not even including age 8! That's nuts! My 7 yo is 39lbs so that means in 3 months when he turns 8, he'll be legal to sit with just a seatbelt. [emoji87][emoji15]


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Yep! One of my colleagues was talking about how her son turned 8 and was so thrilled to be able to sit without a booster on his birthday...


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Keeyamah

Active member
Do they have a bus or a van? I thought buses were exempt (and they're are a couple daycares in town with buses) and vans weren't.


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12 passenger vans, no headrests, but at least lap/shoulder belts in all positions. But it counts as a bus or something that exempts them. Mine will be in a HBB for kindy field trips.

Oh, and the truck thing, the last time I ran into was in high school, so 13-14 yrs ago. And I haven't kept up on it cause my boys will be in big trouble if they do it anywhere other than PaPa's farm helping to feed the horses.
 

AllieK

New member
What do you mean "could the drivers be held liable"? Charged criminally? Sued in civil court? Ticketed by the police?
 

mping

New member
I meant if there was an accident and somebody was really injured could they be held criminally responsible if it was determined that somebody didn't have a good Seat belt fit.


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mping

New member
I know they can't get a ticket because it's technically legal


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AllieK

New member
I meant if there was an accident and somebody was really injured could they be held criminally responsible if it was determined that somebody didn't have a good Seat belt fit.
Not likely, especially since the law doesn't require vehicle occupants to have a good belt fit. Also, how would that be determined? I don't think there is a legal standard or definition of "good belt fit", it can be a subjective term. What if the occupants had a good belt fit but constantly leaned out of position causing a poor belt fit?

The DA might consider a misdemeanor child endangerment charge.

Just as a rule of thumb, if the police can't cite you or arrest you for it, the DA can't charge it criminally. The police & the prosecutors all work within the same laws.
 

mping

New member
I didn't know that. Sad, kids die in car wrecks and the law is useless.


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AllieK

New member
I didn't know that. Sad, kids die in car wrecks and the law is useless.
I don't think the law is useless. It protects the most vulnerable - infants and small kids. I think the law has come a long way in the last few years with several states now making RF until age 2 the law. Is it perfect? No. Should it be? I don't think so. It's our job as parents to ensure our kids are protected. I don't need the legislature to spell out every single protection I should provide to my children.

I really don't mean to sound harsh or snarky but if you're concerned about your child's safety in the carpool then you need to act, it shouldn't be someone else's responsibility to protect your kids. You're wishing there was a law to compel people to safely transport kids until they 5-step? I don't think that's necessary.
 

mping

New member
I do think it's necessary. It saddens me that the minimum is considered good enough. There are laws for everything but not to protect children. I'm ALWAYS concerned about my kids' safety in cars when they aren't with me. But I also can't ostracize my kids and not let them go with other people. I trust my daughter to use her booster correctly and to find a seat with a headrest.


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