Did you know that car seats and seat belts can save lives?
Without these safety restraints, the number of injuries and deaths from car accidents will only continue to grow.
This is why the State of Massachusetts has made its stand.
Every parent has to follow the Massachusetts car seat laws, while the adults need to follow the seat belt laws.
But what does the law say about car seats and seat belts?
Let’s look at that more closely.
We’ll also look at the penalties, myths, and more.
So shall we?
Car Seat Laws in Massachusetts
Children have a higher risk of serious injuries, or worse, death when it comes to a car accident.
In fact, according to the Massachusetts RMV, an average of 3 children below 8 years old die in a year due to car crashes.
And while you might say that you are a careful driver, we can’t say the same for all drivers on the road.
This is why the Massachusetts car seat law is very important.
Now, the law requires that children under 8 years old or whose height is less than 57 inches be in the appropriate car seat.
And while there are no specific car seats mentioned by the RMV, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following:
- Rear-facing car seat – for infants and children up to 20 pounds
- It’s highly recommended that you put your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible or until they go over the recommended height and weight of the car seat manufacturer.
- Front-facing car seat – for children that weigh 20-40 pounds
- Booster seat – for children below 8 years old and weigh 40-80 pounds
Sure, the law does not state any specifics about which car seat to use. However, it does say that the car seat should be federally-approved and properly fastened.
Car Seat Penalties in Massachusetts
If you are caught driving a child below 8 years old without a car seat, then you will be fined $25 for every violation.
The same penalty applies if you are not using a federally-approved car seat or if it is not properly fastened.
Seat Belt Laws in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, all drivers and passengers of any motor vehicle are required to properly wear a seat belt at all times when the car is moving.
As plain and simple as that.
Of course, there are exceptions to this law. You are not required to wear a seat belt if:
- The vehicle was made before July 1966
- You are operating a taxi, livery, tractor, bus, or truck with a gross weight of 18,000 pounds or more
- You are operating or a passenger of an emergency vehicle, such as a police car or firetruck
- You are an employee of the US Postal Service and are currently on duty
- You are unable to wear a seat belt due to a disability. If this is the case, you need to have a medical certificate signed by a licensed physician stating the case.
Seat Belt Penalties in Massachusetts
Similar to the car seat penalties, each driver and passenger not wearing a seat belt will be fined $25.
So, for example, if 3 people are not wearing a seat belt, the fine will go up to $75.
If your passengers are below 16 years old, you have to shoulder all the fines. However, if they are older than 16, then they have to pay the penalty themselves.
How Safety Restraints Work
Safety restraints, such as car seats and seat belts, aim to restrict your movement inside the car, especially when there is a crash.
At first, the restrictive nature of these devices may feel uncomfortable. However, because they can keep you in your seat, you avoid any instances where you get thrown out of the car or at the front during a crash.
Here are some benefits of safety restraints:
- Stop you from hitting any part of the car. Hitting any hard part of the car can cause fatal injuries, especially if it happens to your head.
- Stop you from being thrown out. The moment you are thrown out of a vehicle, you can expect to have fatal injuries or even death as you may hit other hard objects.
- Help you stay seated. When you’re seated, you’re in the right position to control your actions. This way, you can prevent any other injuries from happening.
Keep in mind that these benefits only happen if you wear your seat belt or car seat properly. Improper use of these restraint devices will make them less effective and more susceptible to fatal injuries and/or death.
Proper Way of Wearing Safety Restraints
If you look closely at the Massachusetts car seat and seat belt laws, you’ll see that it puts an emphasis on wearing them ‘PROPERLY’.
So let’s quickly go over the proper use of both a seat belt and a car seat.
How to Properly Wear a Seat Belt
The right way to wear a seat belt is to have both the shoulder and lap straps placed in front of you. They should not be put at the back of the headrest or leaned on behind your back.
Another thing. The seat belt should be snug. If it’s too loose, it might not be as effective.
Finally, it should always be fastened. If not, then it won’t do you any good.
How to Properly Install a Car Seat
Car seats have different instructions, so always follow what the manufacturer tells you to do when installing the car seat.
That said, we have some additional tips for properly installing a car seat:
- The seat shouldn’t move an inch from the right to the left. If it moves, then it isn’t properly secured.
- The car seat should be placed fully on the seat. The car seat should not be slipping from the seat at the back.
- You can use the back seat belt and place it through the car to secure the car seat. If you’re using the lower anchors, do not use the seat belt.
Myths About Safety Restraints
It’s time to bust out some myths about safety restraints.
Myth: I’ll be trapped inside the car during a car crash.
Fact: The goal of safety restraints is to keep you in place so that you can stay conscious when there is a collision. If you are conscious, you can easily undo your seat belt or unstrap the car seat.
Myth: My car already has airbags, so there’s no use for a seat belt.
Fact: Airbags only protect you from the front, and even so, your body will still get injured if it collides so hard on an airbag or the dashboard. The seatbelt can help you stay in place so that you don’t feel the full impact.
Myth: I’m only going to a nearby place, I don’t need a car seat or seat belt.
Fact: Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. Some crashes can occur even when you least expect them. So it’s always best to be prepared regardless of how far you’re going or how much you know the road.
And those were the Massachusetts car seat and seat belt laws.
Accidents happen anytime, anywhere. Safety restraints are there not only to keep you in place but also to prevent injuries or death.
However, these restraints are helpful only if they’re used or installed properly. For seat belts, remember that you have to put the two belts in front of you. For car seats, they should be secure on the seat and facing the direction they’re supposed to face.
While Massachusetts already has laws to encourage wearing these safety restraints, it’s still your choice to follow them.
So always choose safety!