When you’re planning a family trip to Hawaii, it’s important that you make sure to follow local (or exceed) the child passenger safety laws.
Official Hawaii Car Seat Laws
You can find the official Hawaii car seat law in HRS Section 291-11.5.
Hawaii Rear-Facing Car Seat Law
Hawaii does not specify how long children must be rear facing. At a minimum, 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, HI car seat law requires that children ride in a harnessed car seat until at least their 4th birthday.
Hawaii Booster Seat Law
Hawaii requires children to ride in a booster seat until they reach 8 years old (the statute says “through 7 years”) or 4’9″ – but be aware that taking a child out of a booster at that age 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.
When Can Kids Ride In the Front Seat In Hawaii?
Hawaii law generally requires children to ride in the back seat until age 8 or 4’9″, 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 Hawaii Car Seat Law
As of this writing, there are no proposed updates to Hawaii’s car seat laws.
One great HI car seat law feature for Hawaii residents is a $25 per year state tax credit toward the purchase of a car seat or booster seat. With so many cheap car seats on the market, Hawaiian families should be able to keep their kids safe even on a tight budget.
Get the latest from HI DoT
If you’ll be flying to Hawaii, 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.