Illinois Booster Seat Laws

If you are a parent or regularly transport younger kids around in your vehicle, then you want to ensure they are safe. Illinois has laws in place regarding the use of car seats and booster seats. These laws can be confusing, especially when it comes to parents knowing when to graduate their child to a booster seat.

At Horwitz Horwitz & Associates, we have previously discussed Illinois car seat laws and their importance. We want to delve further into what a booster seat is and what parents need to know to keep their kids legal and safe on the roadway.

Child being strapped into a booster seat in a car

What is a Booster Seat?

Booster seats are designed for children who have outgrown their child safety seat (car seat). In Illinois, children must remain properly restrained in a booster seat until they are eight (8) years old. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping children in booster seats until the adult belt fits properly, regardless of how old they are. This means that smaller children over eight years of age may be better of remaining in a booster seat.

  • Seat belts are designed for adults who are at least 80 pounds and have reached a height of 4 feet 9 inches tall.
  • Until a child reaches the age of 8, they are likely not developed enough to properly fit in a seat correctly with an adult seatbelt.
  • A child seated improperly could sustain serious internal injuries due to the belt riding up onto their stomachs.
  • A child is more likely to be ejected from the seat if the seatbelt does not fit properly.

Booster seats allow for the child to sit in the seat comfortable and for the belts to fit properly. Booster seats also allows for children to see out the window more easily.

Improperly Seated Children can Suffer Serious Injuries

While state law only requires children to remain in booster seats until they are eight years old, the law requires any child under the age of 12 to ride in the back seat of the vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics state that children under 13 are not yet fully developed and can be seriously injured in a car accident.

When we look at data from the latest reporting year in Illinois, we can see that there were 311,679 total vehicle crashes. Out of those, there were:

  • 66,889 injury crashes
  • 998 fatal crashes

The Illinois DOT shows age-specific data pertaining to crashes, and we can see that 1,673 kids under four (4) years of age were injured in crashes. For those aged five (5) to nine (9), there were 1,888 injuries as a result of car accidents in the state.

Due to their size and because of their lower levels of bodily development, children are susceptible to severe injuries in a crash. It is not uncommon for children to sustain the following in a crash:

It is vital that parents and guardians understand the importance of keeping kids in a booster seat until they have properly developed to the proper weight and height requirements.