Child Car Seat Requirements Under Georgia Law

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Georgia law requires the use of child car seats, or “restraint systems,” to protect all children being transported in cars, pickup trucks or vans. Children, for purposes of the statute, are defined as any child under 8 year of age.

 O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76 – Child Car Seat Statute

The code section containing Georgia’s child car seat law is Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 40-8-76 (2011).  Subsection (b)(1) provides that “every driver who transports a child under eight years of age in a passenger automobile, van, or pickup truck, other than [a taxicab] or a [public transit vehicle], shall, while such motor vehicle is in motion and operated on a public road, street, or highway of this state, provide for the proper restraint of such child in a child passenger restraining system appropriate for such child’s height and weight and approved by the  United States Department of Transportation under the provisions of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard  213…”

Exemptions

The statute includes a provision specifically exempting children under 8 years old who are over 4’ 9” (57 inches) tall, who can be restrained simply by using the normal restraint system installed in the vehicle.

The statute also contains exemptions for specific types of vehicles.   While Taxicabs are exempt from the requirements of the statute, it is important to note that popular ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft do not meet the statutory definition of “taxicabs” that the statute relies upon.  While Georgia’s courts have not had an opportunity to rule on this issue yet, it presents a potential concern that both parents with young children who rely on such services and the drivers who provide them should be aware of.

In addition to the exemptions for taxicabs and public transit vehicles set forth in the language quoted from subsection (b)(1) of O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76 above, there is also an exemption under subsection (d) of the statute for buses used in the transportation of children that are operated by a licensed or commissioned child care facility, assuming that the facility has met certain criteria.

Exceptions

There are also several exceptions carved out in the statute for situations in which children under 4’9” tall can be transported without a qualifying child passenger restraining system.  Children weighing 40 pounds or more can be restrained using only a lap-belt if  (1) the vehicle is not equipped with both shoulder and lap belts; or (2) when all of the lap/shoulder belts in the vehicle are being used to restrain other children.

Child passengers should be restrained in the rear seat only unless all available rear seat positions are filled by other children, at which point the front seat may then be used for properly restrained children.

Finally, if there is a physical or medical condition that prevents the child from being able to use a qualifying restraint system, the statute provides an exception for parents who obtain a written statement from a physician to that effect.

 

Additional Resources:

An info-graphic summarizing the applicable provisions of Georgia law:

http://www.gahighwaysafety.org/fullpanel/uploads/files/2011boosterseatchangesga.pdf

 

For help identifying an appropriate child passenger restraining system for your child:

https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats#age-size-rec

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