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Child Passenger Safety

When it comes to selecting the right car seat for your child, one size does not fit all. There are four types of car seats: rear-facing, forward-facing, all-in-one, and the booster, with each best suited to protect a child based on their age and size.

Illinois Car Seat Law

Illinois law requires that all children under the age of eight being transported in a motor vehicle must be properly restrained in an appropriate child restraint system, EVERY TRIP, EVERY TIME!

Choose The Right Seat

Rear Facing {Birth to 3 Years)
Illinois Child passenger Safety Protection Act requires children ride rear-facing car seat until the age of two. However, it is recommended that they stay rear-facing as long as possible. The exact height, weight, and age limits can be located on labels on the side, back, or bottom of your car seat or in the car seat manual.

  • Harness straps should be snug at or below the child's shoulders. Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted.
  • The chest clip should be at the armpit level.
  • NEVER place a rear-facing car seat in the front vehicle seat if there is an active frontal airbag.
  • The car seat is buckled in tight enough when the car seat does not move more than one inch at the belt path.

Forward Facing - (2 Years to 7 Years)
Children should ride forward-facing using a five-point harness until reaching the maximum height, weight, or age limit of the car seat. 

  • Harness straps should be snug and at or above the child’s shoulders.
  • The chest clip should be at armpit level. 
  • A tether is recommended to be used at all times. 
  • The car seat is buckled in tight enough when the car seat does not move more than one inch at the belt path.

Boosters - (4 Years to 12 Years)
A booster seat raises and positions a child so the vehicle’s lap-shoulder belt fits properly.   

  • The lap belt must lie snugly across the hips and upper thighs, not the stomach.
  • The shoulder belt guide should be at or just above the shoulder. 
  • The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not across the neck or face.
  • The shoulder belt should never be placed under the arm or behind the back. 
  • Top of the child's ears should not be above the top of the booster seat. 
  • Booster seats should NEVER be used with lap only belts.

Seat Belts - (8 Years to 13+ Years)
Most kids can safely use a seatbelt between the ages of eight and 13.  Remember seat belts fit differently from vehicle to vehicle. Here is how to know if your child is ready for a seat belt:

  • Child can keep their back against the vehicle seat back with slouching.
  • Child can keep their knees naturally bent over the edge of the vehicle seat.
  • Child can keep their feet flat on the floor.
  • The lap belt must lie snugly across the hips and upper thighs, not on the stomach.
  • The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not across the neck and face. 

Child Passenger Safety Technician

Anyone can be a Child Passenger Safety Technician. Training provides the basic technical skills, experience, and knowledge of the proper use and installation of child passenger safety seats required to conduct child safety seat inspections. To keep apprised of the technological changes and federal regulations that affect the correct installation of child safety seats, technicians and instructors must be recertified every two years.

Saved by the Car Seat

Illinois Department of Transportation created the Saved by the Car Seat award as part of its overall effort to increase awareness of the lifesaving value of appropriate child safety restraints. The Saved by the Car Seat award reinforces the importance of properly buckling up children by publicly recognizing individuals who survived traffic crashes because they were properly restrained in a car seat.

Who can submit nominations:

  • Law enforcement officers
  • Emergency medical providers
  • Other agencies involved in traffic crash reporting

Nominee criteria:

  • Nominee must have used proper combination of safety devices available (i.e. car seat, lap and shoulder belt)
  • Nominee involved in an Illinois crash, but need not be an Illinois resident
  • Nominee must not have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Crash must be considered a “serious” crash (more than a fender bender)
  • Nominee must not have been at cited for a willful or intentional violation of the law or found to be responsible for the crash
  • Crash must be verifiable through state/local records

Eligibility will be determined after a complete review of the nomination and supporting documents.

Submit a Nomination

Saved by the Car Seat nomination form (Complete the form and submit via email)

Note: If using a different web browser (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, right-click the form link and select "Save link as ... " to download a working copy. PDF
forms are currently not compatible with mobile or Apple (iOSJ devices.

Child Passenger Safety Week

Illinois recognizes Child Passenger Safety Week September 17-23, 2023 to remind parents and caregivers that state law requires children to ride in a child safety seat until age 8 and rear-facing until age 2. During this time certified child passenger safety technicians provide free car seat safety checks throughout the state as part of Child Passenger Safety Week.


2023 CPSW Flyer (English Spanish)

2023 CPSW Poster (English | Spanish)

Still need help? Illinois has over 1,600 certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians offering training, education, and support materials to educate parents and caregivers on the proper use of car seats and booster seats. Click here to find out if a technician is available near you.