Like all other Canadian provinces, Alberta has implemented car seat laws to protect children. While there were far fewer such regulations a generation ago, the increase in the number of vehicles on the road and enhanced scientific understanding of crash safety has prompted governments across the world to make child seats mandatory. In Alberta, failure to comply with child car seat laws will result in a fine, and the possible application of demerit points to your driver’s license. And that will result in your Calgary car insurance rates rising.
Understanding Child Car Seat Regulations
Child car seat laws are extensive and may seem complex at first glance, but they can be summarized as follows:
- Children under the age of six whose body weight does not exceed 40 pounds (18 kilograms) must be secured in a federally approved child safety seat while in the vehicle.
- It is recommended, but not required, for children between the ages of six and nine, or children weighing between 40 and 80 pounds (37 kilograms), to be secured in a forward-facing booster seat while in the vehicle.
- All passengers must wear seat belts while in the vehicle; if passengers between the ages of nine and 16 in this age range are found not to be wearing seat belts, the driver of the vehicle is held responsible and will be levied a fine for each unsecured child.
- All child safety seats must bear a visible label indicating compliance with the federal government’s Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 regulations.
Rear-Facing and Front-Facing Child Seats
Furthermore, depending on the child’s age and weight, car seats must be either rear-facing or front-facing. In Alberta, children must be placed in rear-facing car seats from birth until they reach a weight of 20 pounds (8 kilograms). However, it is recommended that you continue to use rear-facing child seats until your child’s weight passes the 35-pound threshold. In addition to manufacturer instructions, you should also adhere to the following principles regarding rear-facing child seats:
- Place the rear-facing seat in the back seat of the car; the center position in the back seat is ideal.
- Never place a rear-facing child seat in any position where it directly opposes a front-seat airbag.
- Use the internal harness, chest clip and locking clip as instructed by the manufacturer. All connections should be snug but not overly tight.
Children weighing between 20 and 40 pounds can be secured in front-facing child seats. Follow these guidelines with regards to front-facing safety seats:
- The chest clip should be in line with the child’s armpits while he or she is in the car seat.
- Secure the child in the seat with a seat belt or UAS clip, and a tether strap.
- Ensure all connections are snug but not overly tight.
You can also seat the child in a combination booster seat and front-facing child seat when he or she weights between 20 and 40 pounds. After the child reaches the age of seven and his or her weight exceeds 40 pounds, you are no longer required to use a child seat. However, a booster seat is recommended through age nine. If you choose to use a booster seat, make sure that the seat belt is properly placed. It should run diagonally across the child’s chest, with the lap belt spanning the child’s hips.
Finally, the provincial government recommends that all children under the age of 13 be seated in the back of the vehicle, regardless of whether or not a booster seat is being used. A vehicle’s back seats have been conclusively proven to be the safest place to be during an accident.
Remember: failure to comply with child safety seat laws doesn’t just mean you’ll face a fine, but you’ll also be subject to an increase in your Calgary car insurance premiums. Be smart, be safe and save money by following all regulations regarding children and vehicle safety.
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