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Ohio Car Seat Laws You Need To Know (2021)

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When you’re planning a family trip to Ohio, it’s important that you make sure to follow local (or exceed) the child passenger safety laws.

Official Ohio Car Seat Laws

You can find the official Ohio car seat law in section 4511.81. As a CPST based in Ohio, I have to admit that our laws make me cringe. You’d think that in a state where tons of car seats are manufactured we would do better.

Ohio Rear-Facing Car Seat Law

Ohio law requires that children under 4 years old or under 40 pounds ride in a car seat. As the law is currently written, children over 4 years old are technically required to ride in a booster seat. However, Ohio law enforcement have been clear that they will not ticket parents for keeping a child over 4 years old in a harnessed car seat. We’re working on fixing this language!

Ohio 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.

Ohio Booster Seat Law

Booster seat laws in Ohio apply to kids from age 4 until they reach 4’9″ or 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.

When Can Kids Ride In the Front Seat In Ohio?

There’s no law in Ohio on when kids can ride in the front seat, 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 Ohio Car Seat Law

Ohio hasn’t updated its car seat laws since 2009, and they do not reflect our current knowledge of child passenger safety.

Get the latest from Ohio Department of Health

If you’ll be flying to Ohio, 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.

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