Arkansas Car Seat Laws: What You Need to Know

Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of children's death in the US. While these crashes can't always be prevented, using the correct safety restraint can minimize injuries and save lives.

Just like any states in the US, the state of Arkansas agrees that child safety is essential. That's why the Arkansas Code includes laws on car seats and car belts governing how children can safely ride motor vehicles.

Read on to learn the appropriate Arkansas car seat laws to help keep your child safe and reduce fatal injuries.

Arkansas Child Safety Seat Laws

arkansas car seat laws front seat

The state of Arkansas agrees that a child's safety during travel is important. Thus, the Arkansas Code includes laws that will protect infants and children as they ride a motor vehicle. The Child Passenger Protection Act lists the following requirements:

(a) While operating a motor vehicle on a public road, street, or highway of this state, a driver who transports a child under fifteen (15) years of age in a passenger automobile, van, or pickup truck, other than one operated for hire, shall provide for the protection of the child by properly placing, maintaining, and securing the child in a child passenger restraint system properly secured to the vehicle and meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards in effect on January 1, 1995.

(b) A child who is less than six (6) years of age and who weighs less than sixty pounds (60 lbs.) shall be restrained in a child passenger safety seat properly secured to the vehicle.

(c) If a child is at least six (6) years of age or at least sixty pounds (60 lbs.) in weight, a safety belt properly secured to the vehicle shall be sufficient to meet the requirements of this section.

Remember that these car seat laws are only the starting point. There are countless car seats available. So, you should know how to choose the best for your child.

Safety Seat Recommendations

In line with this, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends safety seat guidelines to ensure better child protection at each life stage.

1. Infants

arkansas car seat laws 2020 rear-facing

The use of rear-facing car seats applies for children until at least one year of age and under 20 pounds.

  • Infants should "always" face towards the back of the car in a car seat.
  • The seat should be positioned at about a 45° angle.
  • The harness straps should be straight and snug, with the chest clip at the armpit level.
  • Never use car seats in the front seat where an airbag is present.

2. Toddlers

The use of forward-facing car seats applies to children until around four years old and 40 pounds. 

  • The car seats should have snug harness straps with slots coming at or above the shoulder level.
  • The straps should not have a room for more than one finger to fit between the strap and the child's collarbone.
  • The chest clip should be placed at the armpit level.

3. Younger Children

The use of booster seats applies for children until eight years old, unless they are 4' 9" tall. 

  • Children should only be secured with a lap and a shoulder belt.
  • The safety belt should be adjusted snugly across the child's body.
  • Never put shoulder straps behind the child's back or under their arms.

4. Older Children

arkansas car seat laws booster

The use of seat belts applies to children who are eight years old or older. 

  • Children should always wear a safety belt in the car.
  • Children should always wear both the lap belt and the shoulder belt.
  • Children should never put the shoulder belt behind their back or under their arm. 

5. Front Seats for Children

A child may begin to ride the front seat at the age of 13, given that their height and weight properly fit the car's seat belt. 

The seat belt should allow proper adjustment and fastening to ensure security when transported in a motor vehicle operated on the street or highway.


6. Passenger in a Wheelchair

Those seated in a wheelchair in a motor vehicle should wear a seat belt properly adjusted and fastened to the wheelchair.

Be sure that the wheelchair is also secured to the motor vehicle.

Exemptions

arkansas car seat requirements

Your children may be exempted from the Arkansas Child Passenger Protection Act for the following reasons:

  • If the child is being transported in a motor vehicle used as an ambulance or any emergency vehicle.
  • If a life-threatening emergency happens on the one operating the vehicle.
  • If an emergency threatens the child's life, who would otherwise be required to be restrained.
  • If the child is physically unable to use the safety seat system due to medical reasons.
  • A physician's certification, which includes the nature of the medical condition, may be required.
  • If the child is transported in a passenger vehicle manufactured before July 1, 1968, or in any motor vehicle manufactured before January 1, 1972.
  • If the child is being transported in a taxi, school bus, church bus, or other public conveyance.

Penalties for Violations

A violation of the Arkansas Child Passenger Protection Law may lead to a $25 to $100 ticket. For offenders who present satisfactory proof of acquisition or purchase, the court will impose only a fine of $25.00.

Effect of Noncompliance

The failure to provide a safety seat to a child passenger shall not be considered as evidence of comparative or contributory negligence, nor proof in a trial for any civil action. Neither its failure can be regarded as evidence for any prosecution for negligent homicide. 

Child Passenger Protection Fund

arkansas car seat laws 2020

A special revenue fund is created and known as the Arkansas Child Passenger Protection Fund. This is consists of:

  • Seventy-five percent of the fines collected for the violation of the Child Passenger Protection Act, which is remitted every tenth of the month to the Administration of Justice Funds Section of the Office of Administrative Services of the Department of Finance and Administration. 
  • Any other money allocated or donated for this purpose. 

The Arkansas Highway Safety Program shall reserve at least fifty percent of the fund's annual expenditures to purchase child passenger safety seats, which shall be loaned or rented to hospitals, groups, or other individuals.

Part of the fund should earmark the balance of the money in conducting public awareness to encourage child passenger safety and promote proper safety belts usage. A certain allocation of the Child Passenger Protection Fund will be allocated for highway safety planning and administration.

Recalls and Recommendations

Car seats should be registered to ensure that they are federally-approved. This also entitles you to receive any notice of recalls. You may register with the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) to receive any recall information about your seat. 

Replacement After an Accident

Currently, there is no Arkansas law requiring manufacturers to replace the car seat in case it is damaged in a crash. 

However, you can more likely include the cost of the replacement in the sum of the damages if the other driver involved was at fault in the car accident.

Be sure to discuss this matter with your injury attorney.