A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health further establishes the importance of placing children in car seats. Car accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injury and death for children older than 1 year, according to background information in the study. More than 500 children younger than 3 died as a result of motor vehicle collisions in 2005, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics cited in the study.
According to the study babies reaped the most benefit from being placed in a car seat. Their odds of dying in a car crash dropped by three-quarters if they were in a safety restraint seat. But older children also saw significant benefits, with a mortality risk reduction of at least 60 percent.
Although many parents use car seats to protect their children in the event of a car accident, they often make many mistakes in using the car seat. For exmaple, many parents do not properly restrain their child in the car seat or fail to properly place the car seat in the car or use an inappropriate car seat. For more information about proper car seat safety guidelines visit The American Academy of Pediatrics website.
Alabama Code section 32-5-222 sets forth the requirements for child passenger restraints under Alabama law.
REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILD PASSENGER RESTRAINTS.
(a) Every person transporting a child in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets, or highways of this state, shall provide for the protection of the child by properly using an aftermarket or integrated child passenger restraint system meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards and the requirements of subsection (b). This section shall not be interpreted to release in part or in whole the responsibility of an automobile manufacturer to insure the safety of children to a level at least equivalent to existing federal safety standards for adults. In no event shall failure to wear a child passenger restraint system be considered as contributory negligence. The term “motor vehicle” as used in this section shall include a passenger car, pickup truck, van (seating capacity of 10 or less), minivan, or sports utility vehicle.
(b) The size appropriate restraint system required for a child in subsection (a) must meet the requirements of Section 32-5B-4 and shall include all of the following:
(1) Infant only seats and convertible seats used in the rear facing position for infants until at least one year of age or 20 pounds.
(2) Convertible seats in the forward position or forward facing seats until the child is at least five years of age or 40 pounds.
(3) Booster seats until the child is six years of age.
(4) Seat belts until 15 years of age.
(c) No provision of this section shall be construed as creating any duty, standard of care, right, or liability between parent and child that is not recognized under the laws of the State of Alabama as they presently exist, or may, at any time in the future, be constituted by statute or decision.
(d) Any person violating the provisions of this section may be fined twenty-five dollars ($25) for each offense. The charges may be dismissed by the trial judge hearing the case and no court costs shall be assessed upon proof of acquisition of an appropriate child passenger restraint.
(e) Fifteen dollars ($15) of a fine imposed under subsection (d) shall be used to distribute vouchers for size appropriate child passenger restraint systems to families of limited income in the state. The fifteen dollars ($15) shall be deposited in the State Treasury to be distributed by the state Comptroller to the Alabama Head Injury Foundation, which shall administer the program free of charge. The Department of Examiners of Public Accounts shall annually audit, review, and otherwise investigate the receipts and disbursements of these funds by the foundation in the same manner and to the same extent as the department performs examinations and audits of agencies and departments of the State of Alabama.
(f) The provisions of this section notwithstanding, nothing contained herein shall be deemed a violation of any law which would otherwise nullify or change in any way the provisions or coverage of any insurance contract.
(g) For the purpose of identifying habitually negligent drivers and habitual or frequent violators, the Department of Public Safety shall assess the following points:
(1) Violation of child safety restraint requirements, first offense ………………….1 point.
(2) Violation of child safety restraint requirements, second or subsequent offense ………….2 points.
(h) Every person transporting a child shall be responsible for assuring that each child is properly restrained pursuant to this section. The provisions shall not apply to taxis and all motor vehicles with a seating capacity of 11 or more passengers.
(i) Each state, county, and municipal police department shall maintain statistical information on traffic stops of minorities pursuant to this section, and shall report that information monthly to the Department of Public Safety and the Office of the Attorney General.
(Acts 1982, No. 82-421, p. 663; Acts 1989, No. 89-781, p. 1562, §1; Act 2006-623, p. 1704, §1.)