Louisiana’s new child passenger safety law went into effect on Aug. 1, 2019. “The upgraded law is based on the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines with the ultimate goal of preventing injuries and maximizing the benefits of child safety seats and seat belts,’’ the Louisiana State Police said in a statement.
Here’s what you need to know.
Children ages 2 and under
From birth through at least 2 years old, children must ride in a rear-facing infant or convertible child safety seat.
Children at least age 2
Children who are at least age 2 and have outgrown their rear-facing seat must ride in a forward-facing child safety seat with an internal harness.
Children age 4
Children who are 4 and have outgrown the forward-facing seat should use a belt-positioning child booster seat using a lap shoulder seat belt.
Need a pediatrician? Contact Ochsner Health Center for Children
Children age 9
Children who are 9 and have outgrown the booster seat and can pass the “5 Step Test’’ should ride restrained with a lap shoulder seat belt. The “5 Step Test’’ means the seat belt fits correctly when the child sits all the way back against the vehicle seat, the child’s knees bend over the edge of the vehicle seat, the belt fits snugly across the child’s thighs and lower hips and not the child’s abdomen, and the shoulder strap fits snugly on the center of the child’s chest and not the child’s neck.
A general rule of thumb from the State Police: If your child falls into more than one age category, keep him in the more protective category. For example, if he is 4, but hasn’t outgrown the forward-facing car seat, keep him in that car seat until he has outgrown it and can use a booster seat.
All children must ride in the rear seat until they are 13 years old.
What if you’re not sure?
If you’re worried your child doesn’t fit correctly in his or her car seat, here’s a list of Louisiana Passenger Safety Task Force fitting stations that will check your car seat for free.