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According to the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, Hawaii Child Safety Laws state that children under the age of 4 must be secured in a child safety seat when riding in a motor vehicle and children between the ages of 4 and 15 must be secured by safety belts when riding in the front seat of a vehicle. Hawaii Seat Belt Laws state that children between the ages of 4 and 17 must use safety belts in rear seating positions.
Beginning at around age 4, many children are too large for toddler seats and too small for adult safety belts. Adult seat belts are designed to fit across strong portions of the human anatomy that can withstand the forces of a collision. The proper fit for an adult safety belt should have the lap belt low across the pelvis or hip area (never across the stomach), while the shoulder belt cross the chest and rest snugly across the shoulder.
Booster seats raise your child up so the safety belt fits properly and can better protect your child. The shoulder belt should cross the child’s chest and rest snugly on the shoulder, and the lap belt should rest low across the pelvis or hip area (never across the stomach area). Your child should be restrained in a booster seat until they are at least 8 years old, under 4’9” tall or over 40 pounds.
TYPES OF BOOSTER SEATS
High-Back-Belt Positioning Booster Seats – There are two types of High-back-belt-positioning booster seats available. Both types are designed to elevate your child so they better fit the vehicle safety belt*.
One type provides head and neck support if your vehicle seat back does not have a head rest. It must be used with the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt and never with the lap belt only.
The other converts from a forwarding facing toddler seat to a booster seat and comes equipped with a harness. This type can be used as a forward facing toddler seat when your child is age 1 and at least 20 pounds to about age 4 and 40 pounds. When your child outgrows the toddler seat, remove the harness and use the seat as a booster seat with the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt.
No-Back Belt Positioning Booster Seat – This type of seat also elevates your child up so the vehicle safety belt fits better. This booster seat is used with a lap/shoulder belt and should only be used in vehicles with built in head rests.
For more information about booster seats or to find a child safety seat inspection station near you, go to: http://kipchawaii.org/car-seat-safety/inspection-stations/