When you’re planning a family trip to Alaska, it’s important that you make sure to follow local (or exceed) the child passenger safety laws.
Official Alaska Car Seat Laws
You can find the official Alaska car seat law in AS 28.05.095.
Alaska Rear-Facing Car Seat Law
Alaska requires children to be rear facing until at least 1 year old and 20lbs. In addition, parents are required to follow the guidelines set forth by the manufacturer of their specific car seat (referred to as “proper use”).
Some manufacturers permit children to forward face as young as 1 year as long as they weigh at least 22 pounds, while other manufacturers require toddlers to be at least 2 years old to forward face.
Rear-facing is significantly safer for children as it dramatically decreases the risk of head and neck injuries. This resource is full of great information.
The current guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that children should remain rear-facing to the limits of their convertible car seat. Nearly all convertible car seats today will accommodate kids up to 40 pounds (they have variable height limits so read your manual) – the size of an average 4 year old – rear facing.
Though it’s not specified by the law, research indicates that kids should continue riding in a harnessed car seat (whether rear-facing or forward-facing) until at least age 5, 40 pounds and mature enough to sit properly for the whole drive.
Regardless of their size, AK car seat law requires that children ride in a harnessed car seat until at least their 4th birthday.
Alaska Booster Seat Law
Alaska requires children to ride in a booster seat until they reach 8 years old or 4’9″ or 65lbs – but be aware that taking a child out of a booster at that age or weight is extremely unsafe even if it’s a legal choice. Most children do not fit properly in an adults seatbelt until 10-12 years old, when they pass the 5-step test.
Be sure to follow manufacturer minimum and maximum size requirements for your booster seat – most manufacturers now require a minimum of 4 years old, 40″ tall and 40 pounds.
Car Seats For Alaska Tourists
An Alaska family vacation can be an amazing experience! There are a few unique situations to know about before your visit to The Last Frontier. As always, the best option is to bring a travel car seat from home rather than renting a car seat.
Car seats on the Denali bus
Alaska car seat laws still apply when taking the Denali tour bus with kids. This law is enforced and some families have been turned away at the bus to go get a car seat.
What should you do with your car seat while hiking in Denali National Park? The easiest option, if your child is old enough, is to bring a WAYB Pico, Ride Safer Travel Vest or Bubblebum and keep it with you all day.
If those options won’t work for you and you need to bring a traditional car seat, you can leave it near the lockers at Eielson Visitors Center or in the footlocker at the Toklat River stop. You’d then be able to explore those areas on foot without lugging the car seat around.
Car seats for Alaska cruises
Cruises are a nice means of transportation for families because you don’t have to worry about vehicle safety every minute. However, if you are planning on excursions that require ground transportation away from the port (whether by car, van or bus) you’ll need a way to keep your child safe.
The challenge of course is that cruise ships have really limited storage. Your best bet is to bring a folding car seat appropriate for your child’s age and stage. When you don’t need it you’ll be able to stick it in your closet or under the bed.
Car seats for the Alaska Railroad
You don’t need to use a car seat on board a train fortunately. Each ticketed passenger is entitled to one carry-on item (which could be your car seat or folded stroller) and up to two checked luggage items.
Taking an Alaska RV with kids
RVing in Alaska is extremely popular, but unfortunately there are some real safety challenges – especially for families. Motorized RVs are not subject to the same Federal crash test standards as passenger vehicles. Other than the front driver and passenger seats, they also aren’t subject to Federal seatbelt laws.
RV crashes don’t happen often, but when they do they can be catastrophic. The frames may flatten and the wooden benches to which rear seats and seatbelts are mounted may collapse. While RV dealers and rental companies may assure you that there are seatbelts or even LATCH systems installed, those systems are not designed and tested like the would be in a regular rental car.
This website has a through, in-depth discussion about the risks of RV travel with kids as well as safer options to consider.
When Can Kids Ride In the Front Seat In Alaska?
There’s no explicit Alaska front seat law for kids, but many car manufacturers specify that kids should not ride in the front until age 13. Here’s an excellent explanation of why.
Upcoming Changes To Alaska Car Seat Law
As of this writing, there are no proposed updates to Alaska’s car seat laws.
Get the latest from Alaska Injury Prevention Center
If you’ll be flying to Alaska, be sure to bring one of these travel car seats. If you’re planning a family road trip, consider one of these comfortable convertible car seats or comfortable booster seats. Check more car seat laws by state as you plan your route.