New Rear-Facing Car Seat Law Effective January 1, 2019

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, Illinois law will require children under the age of 2 to be properly secured in a rear-facing child restraint system unless they weigh more than 40 pounds or are more than 40 inches tall.

It is well documented that the safest position for a young child to ride is in a rear-facing car seat. When a child rides rear-facing, the head, neck, and spine are all supported by the hard shell of the car safety seat, allowing the car seat to absorb most of the crash forces, and protecting the most vulnerable parts of the body. When children ride forward-facing, their bodies are restrained by the harness straps, but their heads – which for toddlers are disproportionately large and heavy – are thrown forward, possibly resulting in spine and head injuries.

Children riding rear-facing may use a rear-facing only car seat or a convertible car seat installed rear-facing. Parents should always check the instruction manual and the labels on their car safety seat to ensure their child is within the manufacturer’s weight and height limits for their seat.

• Never install a rear-facing safety seat in front of an active airbag.
• Follow the recline indicator for rear-facing installation.
• The child’s head may need at least 1 inch or more below the top of the safety seat when rear-facing.
• Use the harness straps/slots at or below shoulder level when rear-facing.
• Harness straps must be snug on the child; the harness clip should be at armpit level.

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