Car seat laws exist for a reason - to keep young passengers safe. To keep your children safe in the event of an accident and ensure you are in compliance with Alberta law, keep reading to learn more about Alberta car seat laws.
Alberta child safety seat requirements by age and weight
Every driver in Alberta legally assumes responsibility for the proper seat belt security of any passengers in their vehicle who are under 16 years of age. For children under 40 pounds and six years of age or younger, there are a few additional rules.
First, an appropriate child safety seat (otherwise known as a car seat) must be utilized. Second, the child seat must be installed correctly in the vehicle. And third, the child must be secured properly in the seat at all times.
Though car safety seats are only required for children under 40 pounds and six years of age, they are adjustable and should be used when appropriate, to ensure the safety of all children in the vehicle.
In addition, the type of car seat you choose matters. Rear-facing car seats have proven to be the safest seating position, especially for developing infants and toddlers, so they should be used until your child is at least one year old or has reached 22 pounds in weight. Once the child is over a year old, has started walking, or weighs more than 22 pounds, you can install a forward-facing car seat.
This type of seat has an over-the-shoulder belt that buckles into a five-point restraint configuration.
According to Alberta law, children that weigh less than 40 pounds or are under the age of six must be secured into a forward-facing car seat at all times. However, if the car seat adjusts beyond this, children can remain in car seats until they have reached the 65-pound benchmark.
Finally, while not required, booster seats are recommended for children once they have outgrown the forward-facing car safety seat. Some forward-facing seats have removable backrests, allowing them to be converted into booster seats when the time comes.
It is recommended that children under nine years old who weigh between 40 and 80 pounds, or those who haven’t reached a height of 145 cm (4’ 9”) use a booster seat when riding in a vehicle. This is because when a child is still small, the typical seat belt may not cross their body where it should (i.e. further up the abdomen and across the neck).
However, this can easily be remedied with the help of a booster seat, which will also help prevent more serious injuries in the event of an accident.
Choosing a child safety seat
When used correctly, child safety seats can save lives and significantly reduce the severity of injuries. However, studies conducted in Canada have found that between 44% and 81% of car seats and 30% and 50% of booster seats are installed incorrectly. Installing the safety seat correctly is crucial to reaping its benefits - namely, protecting your child from harm.
Therefore, we’ve put together a few tips on choosing and purchasing a child safety seat for your Alberta vehicle.
- Read the maximum height and weight limits on the car seat carefully, making sure your child is currently below them.
- Do some research into the model of car seat you are considering. Specifically, find out if it has ever been recalled due to safety issues.
- Avoid purchasing a used car seat.
- Do not continue using a car seat that was in the vehicle during a collision.
- Ensure the car seat fits your child and your vehicle. If possible, test it out before purchasing it or make sure it can be returned or exchanged.
- Choose a car seat that is easy to use and review the manual carefully. Since the car seat will likely be coming in and out of the car frequently, the process of removing and reinstalling it must be simple.
When can a child sit in the front seat in Alberta?
Technically, it is legal for a child to sit in the front seat in Alberta when they have outgrown the parameters listed above. This means that when a child is big enough (in weight and height) to sit with their knees bent over the front of the chair, their spine flat against the back chair, and an adult-sized seat belt secured across their body, they are legally able to sit in the front seat.
However, it is recommended that children sit in the front seat only once they have reached the age of 13. This is the case for all vehicles, but especially those equipped with airbags.
Review the provincial guidelines for more information about Alberta car seat laws.
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