Illinois Car Seat Laws 2023

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Illinois Car Seat Laws 2023

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Illinois Car Seat Laws 2023 (Updated)

According to the CDC, 711 child passengers ages 12 years and younger died in motor vehicle crashes. Further, 36% of children killed in the crashes were not buckled up. Parents and caregivers can enhance the safety of children by properly buckling them in their seats.

In addition, Illinois car seat law requires children below the age of eight being transported in a motor vehicle to be appropriately restrained in a suitable child restraint system, which may include a booster seat.

Ensuring your child’s safety accomplishes more than avoiding a fine; it can save your child’s life. Most states, Illinois among them, have car seat laws to protect children in the event of a car accident.

At Malman Law, your child’s safety is our priority. To find out more about protecting your child in a motor vehicle, we have provided an overview of Illinois car seat laws, demographic risk factors, and tips to keep your child protected.

Child Passenger Protection Act

The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act, which has been in effect as of July 1, 1983, requires that children under 8 years old be secured properly in a child safety restraint system.

As of January 1, 2019, the Act also requires that children under 2 years old need to be placed in a rear-facing child restraint system. However, this does not apply if the child is 40 or more pounds or 40 or more inches tall.

The Act defines a “child safety restraint system” as any seat belt system that is approved by the Department of Transportation that is designed to “restrain, seat, or position children.” A restraint system could be the vehicle’s built-in seat belts, a booster, or a car seat.

Illinois Car Seat Laws
Safety Seat Guidelines for Children

The Illinois Secretary of State has outlined the required safety restraints for children of various ages:

Birth to 2 Years – Rear Facing

The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act requires every child under two to be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system unless they weigh more than 40 pounds or are at least 40 inches tall.

The act recommends the child remain in a rear-facing restraint system as long as possible. In the car seat manual, you can find the applicable height, weight, and age limits on the labels on the side, bottom, and back of your car seat.

More guidelines on this category include:

  • Do not place a rear-facing car seat in the frontal passenger seat if there’s an active airbag.
  • Place the chest clip at the armpit level
  • Harness straps should be below the child’s shoulders

2 Years to 4 Years – Rear Facing

Children aged 2-4 should remain in the rear-facing seat restraint system as long as possible or when they attain 40 pounds or at least 40 inches in height. However, when the child outgrows the rear-facing seat, they can transition into a forward-facing seat with a five-point harness.

Children aged 4-8 years.

Children aged 4-8 years must be secured in a forward-facing child-restraint system until they reach the maximum age, height, and weight limit of a car seat limit. Further, when the child outgrows the forward-facing car seat, they can transition into a booster seat that uses a shoulder/lap belt.

Booster seats mitigate the risk of severe injuries in a car crash for older kids who have outgrown a car seat but aren’t big enough to use car seats. A booster seat also positions and raises a child so the vehicle’s lap shoulder fits perfectly.

Children Aged 8-13 years —Seat Belts

Children aged eight to thirteen years can safely use seat belts. However, they should remain in booster seats until they are tall enough to fit in the adult lap/shoulder belt system. However, the shoulder belt should lie comfortably across the shoulder and chest but not across the face and neck.

Installation Tips for Rear-Facing Seats

If you are a first-time parent, it can be difficult to know if you are properly installing a rear-facing seat. Always consult the owner’s manual before installing any type of car seat or booster seat in your vehicle.

Here are some tips for installing a rear-facing seat:

  • Place the harnesses in your rear-facing seat in slots that are at or below your child’s shoulders.
  • Ensure that the harness is snug and that the chest clip is placed at the center of the chest, level with your child’s armpits.
  • Make sure the car safety seat is installed tightly in the vehicle with either lower anchors or a locked seat belt. If you can move the seat at the belt path (where the seat belt or LATCH goes through) more than an inch to either side or front to back, it needs to be tightened.
  • Never place a rear-facing seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has an active front passenger airbag. There is the potential for serious injury if the airbag deploys.
  • Make sure the seat is at the correct angle so your child’s head does not flop forward. Check the instructions to find out the correct angle for your seat and how to adjust the angle if needed.

Risks for Children Passengers

Certain risk factors increase the likelihood that children will ride unrestrained:


Older children are more likely to not buckle up. Fatal crash data from a recent study shows that 40% of children who died in car crashes between the ages of 8-12 were unrestrained, compared to 31% of children under the age of 4 who died in car crashes.

Another contribution to fatalities is children graduating to the next level of child restraints before they are ready. Age-appropriate restraints are crucial in preventing injuries and death.


Native American, Alaska Native, Black, and Hispanic children are more likely to suffer fatalities since they are less inclined to buckle up.

A recent study revealed the following data:

  • 34% of Black children ride unrestrained;
  • 17% of Hispanic children ride unrestrained; and
  • 8% of White/Caucasian children (between the ages of 4-7) ride unrestrained.

Rural versus Urban

Children who live in rural areas are more likely to be killed in a crash. In one study, fatality rates for children in rural counties were 4.5 per 100,000 population, compared to 0.9 per population of 100,000 in urban counties.

Multiple studies reveal that when compared to urban areas, it is more common for children in rural areas to misuse restraints.

How Effective are Restraint Systems in Reducing Injuries?

In order to reduce injuries and fatalities, children must be secured in the appropriate booster seat, car seat, or seat belt based on their age and size.

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • Booster seats used for children ages 4-8 have been shown to reduce the risk of injury by 45% when compared to seat belt use alone.
  • In a recent study, booster seats have been shown to reduce moderate to severe injuries in children ages 7-8.
  • Car seat use has been proven to reduce the risk of child injuries in a car crash by 71-82%.

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer

You deserve compensation if your child has sustained an injury due to someone else’s negligence. A Chicago car accident lawyer has the proper knowledge and experience to pursue a fair settlement value for your injury-related losses.

We all strive to keep our children out of harm’s way. While you may take the proper precautions, accidents can still happen. If your child sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident, we can answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. No commitment is required.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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