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Georgia Child Passenger Safety Law line

bullet About the New Booster Seat Law  bullet Fact Sheets and Resources

bullet GOHS Press Release     bullet News About the New Law


GEORGIA BOOSTER SEAT LAW

Updated:

EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2011. Children under age eight are required to be in a child safety seat or booster seat appropriate for their height and weight and used according to the manufacturer's instructions. The law also requires children under eight to ride in the rear seat.

EXCEPTIONS TO THE LAW. The new law has some exceptions. For example, children under eight are required to ride in the rear seat, but exceptions exist if there is no rear seating, or all appropriate rear seating positions are already occupied by other children. In this case, children under eight may ride in the front seat but must be properly restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat appropriate for their height and weight. Be aware of the potential for serious injury from airbag deployment if children are placed in the front seat.

VEHICLE EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LAW. Exempt vehicles under the law include taxicabs and public transit (as under previous laws).

Senate Bill 88 extended the exemption for Licensed Child Care Providers that transport children over four and under eight years of age in "buses" as defined in Paragraph 7 of O.C.G.A. 40-1-1 until July 1, 2012 provided that the bus is operated by a licensed or commissioned child care facility, has a current annual transportation safety inspection certificate as required by the appropriate licensing body, and has evidence of being inspected for use by a child care facility. In Georgia, "Bus" as defined in O.C.G.A. 40-1-1(7) is every motor vehicle designed for carrying more than ten passengers and used for the transportation of persons (i.e., twelve- or fifteen-passenger vans, or shuttle buses through July 1, 2012). Child Care Providers are encouraged to refer to the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) "Child Care Transportation Vehicle Requirements" guide in the Additional Resources section below.

School Buses and Multifunction School Activity Buses (MFSAB) continue to be exempt because they must meet more stringent Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for transporting children. All school buses and MFSAB’s have a label from the manufacturer certifying that it is a school bus or MFSAB. This label is typically located on the inside edge of the driver's side door or on the pillar near the driver's seat, and will state “school bus” or “MFSAB” as its vehicle classification if it meets the FMVSS.

CHILD WEIGHT EXCEPTIONS TO THE LAW. For booster seats to be used properly, a lap/shoulder belt is required. There is an exception in the law that will allow a child who is over 40 pounds to use a lap belt only if there are no shoulder belts in the vehicle, or if positions that have lap/shoulder belts are being used to properly restrain other children. (Again, if there are only lap belts in the rear, the child may be placed in the front seat. Children must be properly restrained in a child safety seat that is appropriate for their height and weight and used according to the manufacturer's instructions. NOTE: Consult the safety seat manufacturer's manual. Some child restraints and booster seats cannot be used in the front seating position.)

CHILD HEIGHT & HEALTH EXCEPTIONS TO THE LAW. If a parent can show that a child's height is over 4'9", that child may be restrained in a safety belt in lieu of a booster seat. A child under eight could already be exempt if the parent or guardian has a physician's written statement that a physical or medical condition prevents using a child safety seat or safety restraint system. Be aware of the potential for serious injury from airbag deployment if children are placed in the front seat.

CITATIONS AND FINES UNDER THE LAW. The law provides that any person transporting an unrestrained child may receive up to a $50 fine and one point. If that offender has a second conviction, the fine may double up to $100 and two points. One citation may be written per child unrestrained or improperly restrained.

HISTORY BEHIND GEORGIA'S BOOSTER SEAT LAW. In the 2011 Legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly House Bill 279 and Senate Bill 88 were introduced to strengthen Georgia's Child Passenger Safety laws. The changes to the law strengthened the age requirement, changing the requirement to properly restrain a child from age six (enacted in 2004) to age eight. On May 9, 2011 Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 88 into law effective July 1, 2011.

The 2004 booster seat law required child safety seat usage until age six. Before its passage, that bill journeyed through the Georgia General Assembly for two years. The bill was called "Madison's Law" named for a little girl whose life was miraculously spared by a booster seat. Madison Harty survived a catastrophic crash when an SUV rammed into the side of her family's minivan and sheared off the side where Madison was sitting. First responders credited the booster seat with saving the life of the little girl. With Georgia's booster seat laws, many more young lives like Madison's will be saved.

EASY ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS. The Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute recommends that all children ride in a child safety seat or booster seat that is appropriate for their height and weight. Although the law does not require kids age eight, nine and ten to use booster seats, GTIPI recommends children remain in a booster seat placed in the rear vehicle seat, used with the vehicle lap and shoulder belt until their height reaches 4-feet-9 inches tall. Child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury for infants by 71% and by 54% for toddlers involved in motor vehicle crashes.

GEORGIA'S PRIMARY SAFETY BELT LAW. Georgia already has a "primary safety belt law." This means law enforcement officers can issue citations by observing any safety belt offense, unlike other states with a "secondary safety belt law" where a driver must first be stopped for some other traffic violation.

EVERY OCCUPANT UNDER 18 MUST BE RESTRAINED. Under Georgia law, every occupant under the age of 18 must be restrained regardless of where they sit in a passenger vehicle, including pickup trucks. State law requires that every child under age eight be properly restrained in a child safety seat and that each minor, eight years of age or older, who is an occupant of a 'passenger vehicle' must be restrained by a safety belt.

For more information call the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute at 678-413-4281, or toll free at 800-342-9819, for additional information about child safety seats and proper seat belt use.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

bullet Download a Georgia Booster Seat information page for personal reference or copying here (Adobe .pdf)

bullet Order Georgia Law, Booster Seat, and Child Safety Seat materials

bullet GOHS Child Passenger Safety page

bullet Child Passenger Safety best practice and resource links

bullet DECAL Child Care Transportation Vehicle Requirements (Adobe .pdf)

bullet To read the actual text of Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 40-8-76) click here
NOTE: The online version is UNANNOTATED and may not reflect changes from the current legislative session until after they take effect. New laws in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) are in full effect as of July 1st each year unless another date is otherwise specified in the code.

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