2022 Rhode Island Car Seat Laws You Need to Be Aware of

Protecting children in transportation needs to be the number one task for parents.

When you plan out a vacation outside of your state, do you check the car seat laws in that location?

You might think that bringing all the formula bottles and spare clothes are on the top of your 'to-do list,' but think again.

Checking the car seat laws is one of the most neglectful features among tourists.

As much as they seem the same for all states, you couldn't be more wrong.

As the same set of rules does not apply for all US states, it's time to give them a look.

If you have in mind spending a weekend at Rhode Island, make sure to read the 2022 car seat laws.

Hundreds of children are injured in car crashes each year.

The numbers are getting higher as we speak, mostly because the children are not in an appropriate child restraint system.

From our research, Rhode Island has one of the lowest seat belt usages among all passengers.

You can be one out of the hundred by choosing to play it safe and follow the Rhode Island car seat laws.

Rhode Island Car Seat Law

rhode island child car seat laws

In Rhode Island, drivers must wear a safety belt or a shoulder harness while the car is on the roadways.

Children ages eight or older need to be secured with an appropriate safety belt or a child restraint system.

For younger children, it is necessary to provide a restraint system with a rear-facing seating position. The law applies to children younger than the age of eight, weighing less than 80 lbs.

As for most states, the driver is responsible if the law is violated.

If an under eight-year-old child is not secured or riding in the front seat, the fine for this violation is $85.

If the child is not secured at all, then the law's violation results in a court appearance.

1. Rear-Faced Seat Law

As for the rear-faced seat in Rhode Island, it is required for children under two, weighing less than thirty pounds to be secured appropriately.

The front-faced seats and forward ones need to be approved by the United States Department of Transportation.

A rear-faced seat is positioned behind the driver and the front seat; if you have trouble installing it, take a look at the helpful video.

2. Forward-Faced Seats

When the child reaches two years and is over 30 pounds, it is appropriate for it to be secured in a forward-facing seat.

We do have to mention that these criteria don't always apply.

If your child is two years old but weighs less than 30 pounds or is shorter in height, it is best to restrain it in the rear-faced seat.

If you are not sure about the right time to switch seats, we recommend checking the car seat manufacturer's requirement.

The law can state one age and weight requirement, but it is best to check with the manufacturer and keep the children in appropriate restraint systems.

Keep in mind that the restraint system needs to be approved by the United States Department of Transportation.

How to know if the child has outgrown a forward-faced seat?

You will know it's a time for a booster if the child reaches the weight or height required for one.

Also, if the shoulders are above the harness or if the ears have reached the top of the seat.

These are the recommendations given out by the American Academy of Pediatrics; you should always check the car seat manufacturer's instructions first if you are unsure about the fit.

3. Booster Seats

rhode island rear facing car seat law

All under eight-year-olds shorter than 57" should be restrained in a booster seat throughout the ride.

As you know, booster seats are reserved for children who have outgrown the forward-faced seats.

Children whose height and weight surpasses the forward-facing seats need to be restrained in boosters that contain a belt position until they reach the required criteria for using a seat belt solely as a restraint device.

Don't be discouraged if the child does not match the seat belt criteria as the law declares.

You can use a booster seat until they do so because most children do not fit a seat belt until they turn 12-years-old.

Following the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should ride in the back seat with a booster until 13 years of age.

Types of Boosters

There are two types of boosters:

1. High-back boosters are appropriate for vehicles that have a proper headrest.

As it is a matter of comfort, it is also a matter of safety.

If a collision occurs, the child's head, neck, and back need to be protected fully.

2. The backless models are only adequate if your vehicle has the appropriate headrest for your young one.

Remember that boosters do not come with a harness system but must have a lap and a shoulder belt that need to be positioned right.

The lap belt needs to go over the upper thigh area while the shoulder belt goes over the child's chest. 

If you are unfamiliar with booster seats and their installation, take a look at the video we provided HERE.

When Are Front Seat Rides Allowed?

As the Rhode Island law states, it is illegal for children younger than eight years old to ride in the front seat.

Under the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, children need to be 13 and older to ride in the front seat.

Is It Legal to Leave a Child Alone in a Car?

rhode island infant car seat laws

Rhode Island declared it illegal to leave children younger than 12 unattended in a vehicle.

Even if you leave children for a short period, you expose them to an unknown risk by leaving them unsupervised in a car.

Smoking In Vehicles

Even though no law makes smoking illegal in cars with children in Rhode Island, we advise you not to expose your children to secondhand smoke.

Are Taxis Excluded From Following Car Seat Law?

It is unclear whether taxis need to follow the car seat law in Rhode Island.

However, it is always the smartest option to bring your car seat or a booster if you need a taxi ride.

Taxis are just as prone to accidents as any other vehicle, so it's best to provide a restraint system whenever possible.

Is It Necessary to Replace a Car Seat After an Accident?

rhode island child safety seat laws

The law does not state the replacement, but it is recommended you do so.

Even minor damages can prevent the car seat from doing its job-protecting your little one from getting injured.

So, when in doubt, replace it!

Where Can You Get Car Seat Help?

Final Words

Rhode Island car seat laws are strict and straightforward.

The authorities work together to keep the children safe on the roads while the parents' task is to provide a proper restraint system.

We wish you a good time in Rhode Island and invite you to follow the traffic laws.

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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