The Alberta government is collecting feedback as it looks to update the province’s car seat laws, which it says are no longer up to date with other jurisdictions around Canada.
Child safety seats are designed to keep children safely restrained in vehicles until they can fit into a seatbelt.
Currently, a child’s weight and age is used to determine if they require a car seat, however the province said that this is no longer the best approach. Instead, height and age is now considered the best practice.
In Alberta, children under the age of six and weighing less than 18 kg (40 lbs) must use car seats, with some exceptions such as riding in a bus, emergency vehicle, taxi, or for medical conditions.
The law does not specify which type of seat must be used, only that it must be installed properly and the child be safety secured. The fine for not following this law is $155. However, in a few locations, a free educational program can be taken and the fine is waived.
Rear- and forward-facing car seats help protect infants and smaller children, while booster seats help protect older children.
The province said that when used correctly, child safety seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 per cent and the risk of serious injury by 67 per cent. Provincial statistics show that a child is 3 1/2 times more likely to suffer a significant injury without a booster seat.
Alberta’s child safety seat laws no longer align with laws in other Canadian jurisdictions, where child safety seats must be used for a longer period of time.
Most jurisdictions in Canada require a child safety seat to be used up to the age of nine or 10 years, or 145 centimetres (4 ft. 9 in.), whichever comes first. In Alberta, the law requires a child safety seat to be used for children under the age of six and weighing less than 18 kg (40 lbs).
Alberta Health Services recommends children should be in a child safety seat until a seat belt fits properly, which usually happens when a child is 145 cm (4 ft. 9 in.). According to the provincial government, less than three per cent of children are that tall at eight years old — but by age 12, 90 per cent of children in Canada are.
The province is asking for public feedback in an online survey as it considers changing the rules.
Albertans are asked to help determine potential options for refining or expanding current safety seat laws, understanding how the potential changes could affect Alberta families, and to help ensure that the rules and best practices are clear for parents and focused on child safety.