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Kentucky Car and Booster Seat Laws

Published on Mar 17, 2023 by Thomas Law Offices.

Kentucky Car and Booster Seat Laws
Taking a vehicle out for a drive is always dangerous; however, it’s what most of us have to do to go to work, take our kids to school, visit a doctor’s office, pick up groceries, and so forth. One reason why operating a vehicle is so uncomfortable to do for so many is because they can’t control the way other motorists operate their vehicles. This can be particularly discomforting when motorists are carrying their most precious cargo—their kids—around in their automobiles.

The latest statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) capture how 1,053 children nationwide lost their lives in car crashes in 2019. Countless other kids undoubtedly suffered a wide range of injuries from minor to major in those car wrecks.

Perhaps the biggest survival factor for accidents involving minors was the use of car and booster seats. Below, we’ll discuss how effective booster and car seats are in minimizing the chances of a child suffering injuries in a crash. We’ll also highlight what Kentucky car and booster seat laws are to ensure you don’t receive a citation and your child is protected.

Understanding Kentucky’s Car Seat Laws and Recommendations

Kentucky law requires children measuring less than 40 inches to ride in a car seat. Whether it needs to be rear-facing or can be front-facing depends on the age and weight of the child and the seat design.

The car seat must be rear-facing until the child reaches at least 20 pounds and until after their first birthday. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) strongly recommends that parents and caregivers continue to place their child in a rear-facing car seat up until at least the 30-pound mark and their second birthday.

Additionally, when using convertible car seats, KYTC officials recommend maintaining the seat in a rear-facing position until a child reaches the maximum weight limit for the rear-facing position. Once the maximum weight for this position has been reached, parents can turn the convertible seat to face forward. Our state’s government agency recommends reviewing the car seat’s labeling or instructions to determine its top weight limit for maintaining it in a rear-facing position.

KYTC has also issued recommendations regarding the placement of car seat harness straps for optimal child safety. They differ depending on whether the car seat is being utilized in the rear- or front-facing position as follows:


  • Forward-facing car seats: Placing the harness strap on level with or higher than your child’s shoulders is considered optimal placement
  • Rear-facing car seats: Optimal harness strap placement is when harness straps are on level with or fall below the child’s shoulders

No matter whether the car seat is rear-facing or front-facing, the retainer clip, which preserves harness positioning, should always remain on level with your child’s armpits. These harness straps must rest snugly against their shoulders.

Understanding Kentucky’s Booster Seat Laws and Recommendations

Kentucky law requires children between 40 and 57 inches and seven years old or younger to ride in booster seats. KYTC advises against allowing a child under 40 pounds to ride in a booster seat. If a child happens to be seven or younger and 58 inches or taller, then they no longer have to ride in a booster seat in our state.

Our state’s laws also require caregivers to utilize a lap-and-shoulder style belt when strapping a booster seat in.

When Can Kids Start Riding in the Front Seat Without Child Seats in Kentucky?

KYTC recommendations, which are conditioned on their review of independent research studies, is that parents require their children age 12 or younger to continue riding in the rear seat of their vehicle to ensure their optimal safety. The KYTC suggests that this rule be followed no matter whether a vehicle has air bags or not.

Why Are These Kentucky Car and Booster Seat Laws Important?

The previously cited NHTSA research shows that properly installed car seats can reduce the chances of a child suffering such serious injuries that they require hospitalization by as much as 67%. That same federal research also breaks down the effectiveness of proper car seat use by age group as follows:

  • 54% effective in preventing a child aged 1 to 4 from dying in a car crash
  • 71% effective in preventing infant deaths in an auto accident

NHTSA statistics show that only 10% of parents or caregivers utilize properly installed car seats in our country.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that booster seat use results in a 45% reduction in serious injuries among children aged 4 to 8 when compared with the injury rates of children merely buckled using a seat belt. That same data points out how seat belt use among older children and adults decreases their risk of serious injury or death by at least one-half.

Additional NHTSA research shows that a failure to use restraints, such as seat belts or car seats, is responsible for at least 40% of kids’ traffic fatalities.

How To Handle a Louisville Car Accident That Injured Your Child

Many of us like to think of kids’ bodies as fragile, and they are in some respects. However, they’re also impressively resilient, too. Children aren’t always old or articulate enough to verbalize how they feel, which is why, as parents, we shouldn’t count on them to speak up and let us know if they’re hurt or ill.

It’s always best to take your child to the doctor after any car crash or injury incident, for that matter, to have them checked out to make sure nothing is awry. Doing this ensures they’ll be able to receive aggressive treatment to minimize the chances of their injury or illness having a long-term impact on their life or it causing their unexpected death.

If in speaking with a medical professional, you find that your child has suffered significant harm, then there may be a long path to recovery that lies ahead of them. Our Louisville car accident attorneys at Thomas Law Offices can help you sort out liability for the wreck and advise you whether you’re legally entitled to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for bills you’ve incurred per Kentucky law.

You have nothing to lose by speaking with a legal representative from our office, as we offer a free case evaluation in virtually every personal injury case. So, call or email us to schedule that free initial consultation to discuss your car crash.

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At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out of pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

Call us or fill out the form below to tell us about your potential case and a personal injury lawyer will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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