Car seats save lives.
Seat belts save lives.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration estimated that these safety restraints prevented almost 15,000 deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
With these estimates, it’s no wonder that the State of Vermont implements both car seat and seat belt laws.
And here, we’ll go through these laws, their penalties, and much more.
This will help you keep everyone safe, especially your child — as well as avoid those annoying penalties.
So are you ready to find out the Vermont car seat laws and seat belt laws?
Car Seat Laws in Vermont
The Vermont car seat law states that…
“All children 8 years old and under are required to be on an approved car seat appropriate for their age, weight, and height.”
But as a parent, you might be wondering, “What car seat is appropriate for my child?”
Well, the car seat regulations are specific — they tell you what kind of car seat you should use, depending on your child’s age, weight, and height.
Let’s break this down into detail.
For Infants (Those Under 1 Year Old or Weighing Less Than 20 Pounds)
Vermont requires children younger than a year old to use a rear-facing car seat. Children weighing less than 20 pounds (regardless of age) must also use the same equipment.
Now, parents are encouraged to use rear-facing car seats until their child reaches the maximum height and weight of the car seat.
What’s more, rear-facing car seats are highly recommended to be placed at the back. However, if your vehicle doesn’t have a back seat, you can put it in front as long as you deactivate the airbag in front of it.
For Toddlers (Those 1 to 4 Years Old and Weighing Between 20 to 40 Pounds)
If your child fits the ‘toddler requirements’, you can switch to a front-facing car seat.
NOTE: If you want to save money, you can buy a child safety restraint that is both a rear-facing and front-face car seat.
Again, it’s recommended to keep them in this car seat type until they reach the weight and height limit of the seat. Also, this car seat is safest installed at the back.
For Children (Those 4 to 8 Years Old and Under 4ft and 9in)
When your child outgrows the front-facing car seat, it’s time to transition them to a booster seat. This is a seat that boosts the child up so they can safely wear a seat belt.
Once again, this should be installed at the back and should carry the child for as long as possible (these can typically carry children up to 12 years old).
For Tweens (Those Aged 8 and Above and Taller Than 4ft and 9in)
You can continue using a booster seat for your child once they turn 8 years old. You can use it as long as the child is below 17 years old.
However, they’ll eventually outgrow it.
When this happens, you must ensure that they wear a seat belt.
Before making the switch, though, it’s important that the child can safely and securely fit a seat belt. If not, it may cause more harm than good.
How to Properly Install a Car Seat
It’s one thing to ensure you use the proper car seat.
It’s quite another to make sure it’s installed PROPERLY.
Fortunately, you’re more than capable of installing a car seat on your own. Although it may sound complicated, it isn’t.
Here are the steps:
- Read through the manual — no two car seat brands are the same. You need to read the manual for the specifics of the car seat YOU purchased.
- Find the perfect spot — ideally, car seats go in the back. However, some vehicles don’t have back seats. In this case, it can be installed at the front but with the airbags turned off. Another thing is to keep other occupants in mind. Others must be able to enter and exit your car even with a car seat installed.
- Choose an installation method — there are two ways to install a car seat:
- Using the LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) to connect the car seat to your vehicle
- Using your vehicle’s seatbelt and ensuring it follows the belt path
- Check the fit — you can’t install it without checking if it’s snugly fitted into your car. The car seat won’t do any good if it moves around while you’re driving.
The easiest way to check the fit is to move it in all directions (left, right, forward, and backward). A properly installed car seat shouldn’t move more than an inch in any direction.
The bad news is if it does, you’ll have to redo steps 3 and 4. Don’t worry if you don’t get it on the first try — that’s completely normal.
Just keep at it. Remember, your kid’s safety is at stake!
Or if not, you can get a professional to install it for you.
Car Seat Penalties in Vermont
The Vermont car seat laws are primary enforcement.
This means that a law officer can pull you over if they see an unrestrained child in your moving vehicle.
Now, the penalty for that is a $25 fine and a promise to install the proper car seat.
The amount goes up to $50 for a second offense, while a third one will cost you $100.
And although you won’t have points added to your driver’s license, do you really want to risk your child’s safety?
Car Seats and Airbags
Car seats and airbags are safety equipment.
Unfortunately, they don’t mix.
Most front seats have a warning, reminding drivers that they shouldn’t place a rear-facing car seat there. The main reason is that it will be in the airbag’s deployment zone.
If you get into an accident and the airbag deploys, it’ll hit the car seat and possibly injure the child (or worse).
Don’t worry — the sides of a car seat are good enough protection for your child.
But what if you’re driving a truck and don’t have rear seats? Then put your child’s car seat in the front passenger seat and ensure the airbag is deactivated.
If the airbags can’t be turned off, move the passenger seat as far back as possible.
Vermont Seat Belt Law
The Vermont seat belt law is super simple.
“All vehicle occupants, the driver and all passengers (that don’t require car seats), are required to wear a seat belt in a moving vehicle”.
Yes, it doesn’t matter if you sit at the front or back — it’s still required.
Seat Belt Penalties in Vermont
When it comes to seat belts, this is only a secondary law.
That means a law officer can only issue you a ticket for not using a seat belt if he pulls you over for another violation.
IMPORTANT! The seat belt law is a primary law for those under 18 years old. So you can be pulled over for violating this law alone.
That said, violations may result in the following fines:
- First offense: $25
- Second offense: $50
- Third and subsequent offenses: $100
How to Properly Wear a Seat Belt
Just like car seats, seat belts won’t be as effective if not worn properly.
This is why you should always follow these guidelines:
- The shoulder strap should be away from your neck. However, it must not be off your shoulder.
- The shoulder strap must cross your chest.
- Do not put the shoulder strap behind your back or under your arm.
- The lap belt must not be over your belly.
- The lap belt should fit snugly across your hips and pelvic bone.
- Remove any slack from the shoulder and lap straps to ensure the seat belt fits you snugly without being too tight.
The Wrap Up
That was quite a lot!
Who knew Vermont had so many laws regarding car seats and seat belts?
Well, now you do!
Remember there’s a reason why these laws are there — to ensure safety for all.
So make sure to follow the Vermont car seat laws and seat belt laws.
Don’t forget to buckle up and stay safe!