You are here

Child Safety Laws FAQ

The Child Safety Laws Map helps parents, consumers, lawmakers and others find a range of laws affecting children in each state and the District of Columbia. It is the first online guide that will ultimately bring together laws on child safety in one place. This searchable map will be released in stages. The first stage provides the state laws on child occupant protection involving car seats and the use of seat belts.

In addition to state laws, the Child Safety Law Map also provides “best practices” families can use to keep kids as safe as possible in a car. These evidence-based practices were developed by Safe Kids, pediatricians, engineers, manufacturers and government over many years and they reflect the most effective ways to keep kids safe in and around cars.

Knowledge is power! Safe Kids wants every parent to have up-to-date state laws and to know the best practices for protecting their children. State laws on occupant protection are different in every state and this tool will tell parents the law in their state. And for families who take road trips, it’s important to know the laws in other states, too. Knowledge is also peace of mind. Using the proper restraints is one of the best ways to keep all passengers safe in motor vehicles and to avoid fines, which can be steep.

The most effective way to keep a child safe in a car has evolved over the years. As science and engineering have advanced, many states may not have updated their laws at the same pace. Parents will want to refer to well-accepted best practices provided by organizations like Safe Kids, as well as the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics to protect their children in the most effective way.

Yes. Compare your state law with the best practices provided with the Child Safety Law Map. If you see a significant difference, you can work with other like-minded citizens, Safe Kids coalitions and other safety groups to make your law stronger.

It’s a good idea to have a professional teach you how to use your child’s car seat correctly for a safe, snug fit. You can visit to find a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area. You can also use the Ultimate Car Seat Guide, an easy-to-use website that shows families how to choose and use a car seat.

In most cases, we looked at the actual laws. We also consulted two organizations’ websites. They are the Governor’s Highway Safety Association and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s website on child safety and seat belts. On heatstroke “Good Samaritan” laws we referred to We thank these organizations.

Does heatstroke law give immunity to a person rescuing a child in a hot car?

Less than one-half of the states have a law giving explicit civil immunity to a “Good Samaritan” who enters or breaks into a motor vehicle after seeing a child alone. Other states provide for more general immunity for a range of positive conduct, but do not necessarily apply to hot car rescues. Many of the hot car “Good Samaritan” laws are limited based on varying circumstances ranging from a rescuer’s status to steps taken by the rescuer before entering the car.

Maximum fine for 1st car seat violation

In some cases, the amount may be greater based on court costs. Some states will apply points in addition to a fine. Some states will require the driver to take a child restraint education program and others may require community service.

Maximum for 1st seat belt violation

In some cases, the amount may be greater based on court costs. Some states assess points for a violation in addition to a fine. 

Front Seat vs. Rear Seat

Many states provide an exception allowing a child to sit in the front seat in cases where there is no rear seat or all rear seats are occupied by younger/smaller children in restraints. In such cases, state laws typically require the front seat airbag system to be deactivated. 

Child restraints

Some state laws make exceptions for children with special needs and/or based on a licensed physician’s direction. In some states, courts have the discretion to waive the first violation if the driver shows that they have acquired a child restraint device.

Back to the State Law Tracker