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Is your child's car seat properly installed? Here's how to check.

Guest Contributor September 16, 2014
Father putting on seatbelt for son in car seat.
Did you know motor vehicle collisions remain a leading cause of injury-related death in Ontario? Did you also know that wearing a seat belt and using the right child car seat or booster seat is the most effective way to reduce that risk?

How do seat belts work?

During a collision, unbelted occupants and loose items will continue to move at the same speed the vehicle was travelling before the collision. Internal organs also keep moving within the body until they hit the skeletal structure, which can result in serious injuries.

A properly fastened seat belt helps distribute the force of a collision over larger and stronger parts of your body, such as your chest, hips and shoulders. Seat belts also stretch slightly to slow your body down and increase its stopping distance, so you’re less likely to be seriously injured.

Car seat and booster seat tips.

  • Under Ontario law, drivers transporting children under age 16 in a motor vehicle must make sure they are properly secured in a child car seat, booster seat or seat belt.
  • Booster seats are required for children who have outgrown a child car seat but are too small for a regular seat belt. A booster seat raises your child so the vehicle’s seat belts are properly positioned across their body.
  • Always use a lap and shoulder combination seat belt with a booster seat. The lap portion must cross low on your child’s hips, and the shoulder portion must cross the middle of their chest and across their shoulder.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s weight and height requirements for all child car seats and booster seats. It’s best to keep your child in a car seat or booster seat as long as possible, until they reach the weight or height limits.

Is your child ready for a seat belt?

If your child can sit upright against the back of the seat with their legs bent comfortably over the edge for the entire trip, they’re probably ready to use a seat belt.

The law in Ontario allows a child to start using a seat belt alone once any one of the following happens:
  • they turn 8 years old
  • they weigh 36 kg (80 lbs.)
  • they are 145 cm (4 feet 9 inches) tall

Child car seat installation tips.

Community car seat inspection clinics indicate that many car seats and booster seats are installed or used incorrectly. When you’re installing a child car seat, carefully follow the owner’s manuals for both your vehicle and the child car seat.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation developed three online videos to help parents and caregivers properly install and use their child car seats and booster seats.