Rhode Island Law May Soon Require Rear-Facing Car Seats for Toddlers

file0001704977235-300x225Rhode Island has taken a big step toward protecting young children. The Rhode Island House of Representatives recently passed legislation to require young children under the age of two, or weighing less than 30 pounds, to ride in rear-facing car seats in vehicles. The bill will now move onto the Rhode Island Senate, where it is supported by the Senate President, as well as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), AAA, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Lifespan, and the RI State Police. With these substantial supporters, it is hopeful the bill will pass and go a long way in helping to protect Rhode Island’s youngest. At Tapalian Law, personal injury attorney David Tapalian feels strongly about supporting legislation that can protect victims from vehicle accident injuries, especially the youngest ones who rely on us to keep them safe. Car accident injuries can be especially damaging to children’s small bodies making it even more important to take every safety measure possible to keep them protected.

Current Rhode Island Child Car Seat Law

If this bill passes, Rhode Island would join California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Oklahama, in making rear facing car seats a requirement for kids under two. It has long been recommended by safety experts to keep small children in rear facing car seats as long as possible, but by making it a requirement, Rhode Islanders will now be required to follow this advice or face fines. Current RI Child Car Seat Belt Law requires the following for children:

  • Under 8 years old, less than 57 inches tall, weighing less than 80lbs, must be transported in the rear seating position of a motor vehicle and properly restrained in a child restraint system.
  • Between 8 and 12 years old, must be wearing a properly fitting seat belt.
  • 13 years old and over, including vehicle operators, must wear a properly fitting safety belt and/or shoulder harness.

Though not required by law, many child passenger safety technicians agree that ideally, children would ride rear-facing until age 3-4, forwarding facing with a 5-point harness until age 5 or 6, in a booster seat until 10-12 and in the back seat until 13 years old. With so many online reviews of child safety seats, it may get confusing for a parent or caregiver to decide on a seat. The website, Car Seats for the Littles, advises that the safest seat is the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle, and can be used correctly 100% of the time.

Vehicle Accidents Top Cause of Child Injury and Death

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death and injury for children in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), front-end collisions account for about 43 percent of injuries to children and car seats and side impact crashes account for approximately 33 percent of these injuries. Rear-end collisions account for about 9 percent of the injuries. Front and side crashes are said to result in a greater amount of head injuries. Because of the differences in a young child’s spine and their relatively large head mass, being involved in a head-on crash while in a forward-facing car seat can lead to more stretching of the spinal cord. The younger the child, the lower the crash force necessary to cause spinal, neck, and head injuries.

When a child is positioned in a rear-facing safety seat, the head, neck, and spine, are kept aligned and if involved in a car crash, the forces of the crash are distributed more evenly over these body areas. The safest spot for children of all ages is in the backseat and keeping them rear-facing as long as they possibly can be can go a long way in preventing unnecessary personal injury and fatalities.

Have You Been in a Car Accident with Your Child?

Seek medical treatment immediately if you and your child have been hurt in a car crash. If you have been hit by another driver, you will want to seek out the legal advice of an experienced Rhode Island personal injury attorney. Attorney David Tapalian is a skilled, Providence personal injury lawyer who has been fighting for the rights of his injured clients for over 15 years. At Tapalian Law, we focus on getting you the help you need to get back on your feet after a devastating crash. Injuries sustained to you, or a family member, in a collision can be life-altering. Attorney David Tapalian will ensure that you are rewarded the maximum monetary compensation for your personal injury case. You may be eligible for compensation for lost wages, hospital bills, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. We provide a free consultation to review the details of your case. Do not wait. Seek the advice of personal injury attorney, David Tapalian, today. Call us at


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