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Health Stories

Booster Seat Law Helps Prevent Injuries

On September 1, 2005, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation made a significant change to the Highway Traffic Act mandating that parents, caregivers (i.e., babysitters) AND grandparents would have to transport children who meet the following requirements in a booster seat:

Children who:

  • weigh between 18 and 36 kg (40-80 lbs)
  • have a standing height of less than 145 cm (4 feet, 9 inches)
  • under 8 years of age

It is mandatory that these children use a booster seat for every car ride, no matter how far they are travelling. A child may begin using a seatbelt without a booster seat when any one of the following criteria is met: the child turns 8 years old, weighs 36 kg (80lbs) or measures 145cm (4 feet, 9 inches) tall. In some instances, a child may be 8 years old, but not close to 80 pounds or significantly under the height requirement. A booster seat may still provide the best protection in such cases.

Booster seats help prevent injuries to children who are too big for a forward — facing car seat but too small for the seat belt system. Booster seats serve a simple purpose. They raise the child so that the seat belt system fits properly — low over the hipbones and across the chest. In the event of a crash, the seat belt is designed to put pressure on the stronger bones in a child's body. If the seat belt does not fit properly, the chance of serious injury increases.

When parents, caregivers or grandparents feel a child no longer requires a booster seat, it is a good idea to perform a seat belt test. In the back seat of the vehicle, have the child put the seat belt on. Make sure that:

  1. The shoulder belt goes over the shoulder and across the middle of their chest. It should not touch their neck;
  2. The lap belt fits low over their hip bones and does not sit over their abdomen;
  3. The child's knees bend comfortably over the edge of the vehicle seat and the child is not slouching to bend his/her knees.

If the seat belt does not fit in this way, the child should still use a booster seat according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

For more information on booster seats and other child restraints, please contact Ottawa Public Health Information at 613-580-6744 or visit the Ministry of Transportation website

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