Accidents happen — no matter how careful you are when behind the wheel.
Because that’s true, you need protection every time you go for a drive.
This is why it’s so important to use car seats and wear safety belts.
And this is why the State of Illinois has implemented strict car seat and safety belt laws.
It goes without saying, it’s also important to obey these laws in the state.
But how can you do that if you don’t know the laws?
Well, here, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the Illinois car seat laws and safety belt laws. We’ll talk about the actual laws, the penalties, and how to properly use these safety devices.
So let’s begin!
Car Seat Laws in Illinois
On January 1, 2019, Illinois executed the Child Passenger Protection Act. This Act requires children under 8 years old to be placed in the right safety restraint system.
Here are the car seat requirements for children:
- Below 2 years old – use a rear-facing car seat
- Under 8 years old but above 2 years old – use a child safety seat or booster seat depending on the child’s height
That said, there are a few exemptions, these are:
- The child is under 8 years old but already weighs more than 40 pounds
- The child is under 8 years old but is already taller than 40 inches
- The child is being transported by a vehicle that has a GVWR of 9,000 pounds
How Properly Use a Car Seat
Don’t know how to use a car seat? Here’s a quick guide on how to do it:
- Put your baby in the middle of the car seat. Make sure that their back and head are pressed against the car seat rest.
- The straps should be placed on the shoulder level. It shouldn’t be on the legs or the head.
- Fasten the shoulder straps. Make sure that it’s snug on your baby.
- Check if the straps are too loose. Pinch the strap. If you can pinch excess parts of the harness, then it’s too loose. Tighten this by adjusting the straps.
Here are a few things to avoid when you’re putting your baby in a car seat:
- Do NOT make your baby wear thick clothing. If it’s cold, put a blanket over the harness after the latter is secured.
- Do NOT put a blanket inside the car seat.
- Do NOT put pillows or blankets inside the car seat unless it’s already included in the car seat when you bought it.
Now, if you put thick clothing on your child or if there are extra cushions inside the car seat, then this may give a false impression that the harness is properly fit. It’s best to remove all of them first and just put thicker layers on top of the car seat if needed.
For booster seats, take note of these things:
- The shoulder strap should be placed on the shoulders and not under the arms of the child.
- The lower strap should be on top of the thighs and not on the stomach.
Always remember to check the straps’ fit before you start the car. This way, you’re sure that your child is properly strapped in and protected.
Car Seat Penalties in Illinois
As with most laws, you will face penalties if you break them.
So here are the penalties you’ll face if you don’t obey the Illinois car seat laws:
- $75 for the first offense
- $200 for the second and subsequent offenses
For the first offense, you are automatically eligible for court supervision if you complete an instructional course on the child restraint system. You should also be able to provide proof of having bought an approved child restraint system.
However, if it’s your second offense, you will no longer be given court supervision.
Safety Belt Laws in Illinois
If you are 8 years old and above, you are required to wear a safety belt. This is regardless of whether you’re sitting in front or at the back of the vehicle.
Just like car seat laws, there are a few exemptions to this law. These are:
- Children below 8 years old – they’re required to be in car seats instead
- Passengers who have a disability or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a safety belt
- Driver or passenger that frequently stops and goes down the vehicle if the vehicle does not run faster than 15 mph in between the stops
- A driver that operates the vehicle in reverse
- A driver and passengers using a vehicle manufactured before 1965
- A driver and passengers of a motorcycle or moped
- A driver and passengers of a vehicle that is not required to have safety belts under the law
- A driver and passengers of an emergency vehicle
If you have a disability or a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a safety belt, always have a written statement by a physician that talks about why you are unable to wear a safety belt. This is so that, if you get stopped, you can show proof.
How to Properly Wear a Safety Belt
There’s a right way to wear a safety belt. Unfortunately, not a lot of people wear it the proper way.
Here’s how you should wear a safety belt for maximum safety:
- Fasten the safety belt to its lock.
- Make sure that the lap and shoulder straps feel snug to you.
- Do not put the shoulder strap at the back of the seat. It won’t be able to protect you from a collision.
- Do not put the safety belt under your arm. It should be over your body.
Wearing a safety belt incorrectly is still breaking the law. A police officer can stop you if they see you wearing one but not PROPERLY.
Safety Belt Penalties in Illinois
Speaking of police officers, Illinois allows them to stop you if they see you not wearing a safety belt. If you are caught not wearing a seatbelt or improperly wearing one, you will be fined $25.
However, a safety belt violation does not add points to your driving record.
So that was everything you need to know about the Illinois car seat laws and safety belt laws.
While you might be encouraged to follow these laws because you want to avoid the penalties, know that these devices help save lives.
It’s also as important to use/wear them properly so that you maximize their safety benefits while on the road.