When you’re planning a family trip to Illinois, it’s important that you make sure to follow local (or exceed) the child passenger safety laws.
Official Illinois Car Seat Laws
You can find the official Illinois car seat law in Illinois Compiled Statutes 625 25/4
Illinois Rear-Facing Car Seat Law
Illinois rear facing car seat law requires children to remain rear facing (either in an infant car seat or a convertible car seat) until at least 2 years old unless they exceed 40lbs or 40″.
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.
IL car seat law recommends that children ride in a harness car seat until they reach the maximum height or weight specified by the manufacturer, though there is no age requirement. It recognizes that “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children of every age from 4 to 14 years old”.
Illinois Booster Seat Law
Illinoi’s law for booster seats requires children to ride in a booster seat (or harnessed car seat) until they reach 8 years old. 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.
Most children do not fit properly in an adults seatbelt until 10-12 years old, when they pass the 5-step test. The Illinois Secretary of State rightly encourages parents not to rush out of the booster seat, as adult seatbelts are designed to fit a 165lb man.
When Can Kids Ride In the Front Seat In Illinois?
There is no Illinois front seat age minimum even though we know their bodies aren’t safe up there. However, many car manufacturers specify that kids should not ride in the front until age 13. Here’s an excellent explanation of why.
Car Seats for Chicago Tourists
If you’re planning on a family trip to Chicago, it’s important to note that car seat laws apply in taxis, Ubers and Lyfts in Illinois as well. This stipulation was clarified in the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act of 2019. Those services do not offer rental car seats in Chicago.
A safe alternative if you don’t want to bring car seats to Chicago as you explore downtown is to take the train or bus. These services are easy to use and affordable and your child is safe on them without a car seat.
Upcoming Changes To Illinois Car Seat Law
Illinois instituted its 2 year old minimum to forward face back in 2019 and hasn’t made any changes since then, nor are there any pending proposals.
Get the latest from Illinois Secretary of State
If you’ll be flying to Illinois, 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.