Children Under 12 Years Old
G.L. c. 90 s. 7AA
Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for young children. A minor crash or even a sudden stop can seriously injure a child who is not riding in the correct type of child safety seat.
As you may know, 75% of child safety seats are installed incorrectly. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security has set-up more than 150 Child Safety Seat Inspection Sites throughout the state. Drivers can ensure their seat is installed correctly free of charge by visiting one of the many conveniently located sites.
The Highway Safety Division has produced two public service announcements which are running on local television until September 19th. Please help us get this important information out to your local community by posting the PSA Links to your website and/or social media pages. Community members can find more information by visiting www.mass.gov/childsafetyseats or calling the toll-free Child Passenger Safety Hotline at 1-877-392-5956.
Minimize this risk by having your child always ride in a properly fastened and secured safety seat.
Use this chart as a general guide to what safety seat your child should ride in. Review the safety seat and vehicle manufacturer's instructions for specific details.
Type of Seat
|Infants - Birth to minimum 1 year||Up to 20-22 lbs (or maximum weight limit of seat)||Infant Seat or rear-facing convertible|
|Toddlers - 1 to 4 years||20-40 lbs (or maximum weight limit of seat)||Convertible or forward-facing|
|Young Children - 5 to 7 years|
41 lbs to 57" (or maximum weight limit of seat)
Belt positioning booster seat
|Child - 8 to 12 years||Greater than 57"||Seat belt|
When is a child big enough to wear an adult safety belt?
- Tall enough to sit without slouching; by Massachusetts law, this is over 57".
- Shoulder belt rests comfortably across the shoulder and chest, not the neck or throat.
- Lap belt fits securely, low and snug on hips.
- Sits with back and buttocks against seat.
- Knees completely bend over the edge of the seat.
- Feet are flat on the floor.
- Stays comfortably when seated this way.
Booster seats put children in the proper position to safely use adult safety belts, and are required by law until children are 8 years old OR over 57" tall.
- Children 12 and under should always ride in the back seat. Follow the vehicle manufacturer's warnings about seating children near airbags.
- IMPORTANT: Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an airbag.
- Never place a shoulder belt behind the child's back or under the arm.
- Set a good example - 70% of children whose parents do not buckle up, don't buckle up when they become adults. Wear your safety belt every time! Remember, Massachusetts law requires everyone to buckle up.
- Any object in a vehicle can become a projectile in a crash. Use your car's trunk or cargo area to properly store loose items.
- Learn to properly use your child's safety seat by reviewing the seat and vehicle manufacturer's instructions. If you still need assistance, find a Child Safety Technician at www.mass.gov/childsafetyseats or call 1-877-392-5956 or TTY 1-617-725-0261.
Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law (as of 7/10/08)
- Children must be in a federally approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years OR over 57" tall.
- Children ages 8 through 12 must wear a properly fastened seatbelt.
- A police officer can stop your vehicle if a child age 12 or under is not properly restrained.
Remember, the best place for all children to be seated/sitting is in the back seat!
For technical advice on the installation of your child car seat, please visit the Boylston Fire Department or call Trooper Susan Anderson of the Holden State Police Barracks at (508) 829-8321.