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Massachusetts car seat rules and recommendations


If you’re a Boston parent, it’s likely you spend a lot of time traveling with your kids. You’re always driving somewhere: school, shopping, extracurricular activities, appointments and social occasions. When you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to forget the basics.

The Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law requires children to be properly restrained in vehicles, according to their age and height. Eight is the minimum age to wear a seat belt, independent of other restraints. The exception — younger children over 57 inches tall and a height of at least 4-feet 8-inches — also may ride with a seat belt.

Some parents try to rush the transition from rear- to front-facing car seats and car seats to booster seats. The Mayo Clinic advises parents to keep children in age, height and weight appropriate safety restraints, as outlined in car seat and booster manufacturers’ instructions. All children, 12 and younger, should ride in the back seat, whether or not they are ready to wear only a seat belt.

Some parents buy car seats or receive them as gifts, without looking into the products’ history. Hand-me-down car seats may save parents money, but they might not be safe for children. Reject car seats more than six years old, seats you know nothing about and any damaged or recalled seats.

Don’t ignore the owners’ manual or instructions during installation. Each type of restraining device includes information about tether, anchor, chest clip and harness placement.

Car seats should be secured in place with one inch or less of “wiggle room” and placed at the center of the back seat, when possible. When a front seat is the only option in a vehicle, disable the air bags. Children in rear- and front-facing car seats have been hurt by air bags in accidents.

Take advantage of community car seat inspection stations. Concerns about liability for children’s accident injuries can be addressed by an attorney.

Source: Mayo Clinic, “Car seat safety: Avoid 10 common mistakes” accessed Feb. 12, 2015


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