According to the Ministry of Transportation, car accidents are the leading cause of death among Canadian children. For this reason, the Ontario child car seat laws are regularly revisited and improved to ensure the safety of children.
The Ontario child seat laws were promulgated to help protect children in case a vehicular accident occurs. Drivers need to stay updated on the latest rules and regulations regarding car seats for the following reasons:

  • Fines may run up to $1000 for drivers who are caught with child passengers who are not in an appropriate seat for their age, height, and weight, as mandated by law
  • The car seat regulations in Ontario ensure the best chance of protection for children in case an accident occurs

With proper installation and use, booster seats, child car seats, and seatbelts are incredibly helpful in reducing the risk of injury or death among children. Car seat inspection clinics often see many child car seats that are installed incorrectly. The common mistakes are:

  • Seatbelts are not tightened appropriately
  • The Universal Anchorage System (UAS) strap and harness are not tightened enough
  • Tether straps are not used correctly
  • Children are not using the appropriate car seats for their age, height, or weight

How Ontario Car Seat Laws Have Changed Through the Years
New safety information and technology have continued to influence car seat requirements in Ontario to keep children safer. The laws are regularly updated to ensure that they are in children’s best interest and reflect the latest findings on safety. One example is the recommendation to use rear-facing child seats, away from airbags, for toddlers and older infants.
The car seat rules in Ontario are in place to ensure that children are protected and that adults are taking responsibility for children’s safety. As such, fines are in place to aid in their strict implementation. For example, there’s a fine for expired car seats in Ontario to ensure that car seats are replaced after their useful life date. Other fines and demerits are:

  • A fine of $200 – $1000 per child below 16 without a proper car seat and seatbelt
  • Minus two demerit points on top of the fine imposed per child below 16 without a proper car seat and seatbelt
  • Having non-functional seatbelts will also incur fines, even without passengers in the car
  • Passengers over 16 years old who do not buckle themselves up correctly

How Ontario Child Car Seat Law Is Now
Generally, Canada’s car seat laws were created to protect passengers of all ages and sizes. Especially for children, who grow rapidly, car seats must be fitted and adjusted according to their needs. As such, Canadian law generally reflects children’s age, height, and weight requirements. These requirements are carefully studied following data on safety to ensure that they offer children the best protection inside vehicles.
In addition to airbags, seatbelts and car seats ensure that passengers have the best chance of surviving and avoiding serious injury in the event of a collision. In Ontario alone, studies have shown that existing child car seat laws and the implementation of such greatly reduces the risk of serious injury and death:

  • The risk of serious injury and death is reduced by 54% in toddlers
  • The risk of serious injury and death is reduced by 71% in infants

Infants Car Seats
Infants and newborn babies require special protection while inside a vehicle. Rear-facing and properly installed child car seats have saved many a newborn’s life in a collision. According to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, children should use a rear-facing car seat until such time that he or she weighs at least nine kilograms (20 pounds). Most commercially available car seats can accommodate children until they weigh up to 20 kilograms (45 pounds).Once a child surpasses the weight and height limits of his or her rear-facing car seat, they may be upgraded to a larger convertible seat for their new height and weight but stay rear-facing as mandated by law.

Toddlers Car Seats
Toddlers may use front-facing car seats, especially if they have already outgrown their existing rear-facing seat. Remember that it’s important to use a seat that is neither too small nor too large for your child, as the right size will offer them the best protection.
Front-facing seats are also fitted with special harnesses designed to hold children in place. These work better than standard seat belts designed for adults, and thus must be used correctly. According to the law, children who are 9 to 18 kilograms (20 to 40 pounds) in weight must use toddler seats.

Booster Seats
Once a child outgrows their front-facing toddler seat, they can now use booster seats. These allow small children to reach adequate height to fit into an adult seatbelt. Ontario booster seat laws require children between 18 to 36 kilograms (40 to 80 pounds) to use booster seats.
Booster seat regulations in Ontario also require children who stand at 4’9’’ or less to use booster seats. The age for booster seats in Ontario is eight years old or younger, as long as they fall within the height requirement for booster seats.It’s also important to check the manufacturer’s guidelines and observe the recommended use of booster seats according to your child’s height and weight.

Seatbelts
For older children and adults, seatbelts are an appropriate and sufficient safety precaution in addition to airbags. Child seat belt laws in Ontario  dictates that a child can move on from a booster seat to a regular seat plus seatbelt under the following conditions:

  • The child can sit against the back of the car seat with his or her legs bent over the edge
  • The lap belt must cross over the hips and not over the stomach
  • The seatbelt’s shoulder belt must rest comfortably across the child’s shoulder and chest

The Highway Traffic Act likewise allows the use of a seatbelt if:

  • The child is eight years old or above
  • The child is at least 36 kilograms (80 pounds)
  • The child is at least 145cm or 4’9’’

All passengers under 16 fall under the responsibility of the driver and must be secured properly at all times.ConclusionWhile car safety and car seat laws have improved, accidents may still happen. Adhering to the law regarding child car seat laws, however, will offer you and your children and younger passengers the best protection.
For legal counsel concerning car accidents, make sure to enlist the help of expert car accident lawyers and personal injury lawyers in Ontario. Yegendorf specializes in motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents,  catastrophic injuries, and more. If you need help or counsel, our initial consultations are always free.

Howard Yegendorf & Associates offers its services in Ottawa and throughout Ontario. For more information, please visit https://yegendorflawfirm.ca/. Howard Yegendorf & Associates would like to thank online marketing agency dNovo Group https://dnovogroup.com/ for help with this article.

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