This article on Arkansas Car Seat Laws is written with references from the Arkansas State Legislature and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (state laws section) websites.
Subsequent details on each category of the law on rear-facing, forward-facing, booster seats, and front seats are provided. Other areas like laws on smoking in a car, leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, and other helpful resources about Arkansas on car seat inspection and more are also provided.
Arkansas Car Seat Laws
The State of Arkansas Car Seat Laws (AR Statutes 27-37-706 and 27-34-103)
Section 27-34- Child Passenger Protection Act
A driver transporting a child under 15 years shall secure such child in a child passenger restraint system that is appropriately attached to the vehicle;
- A child under 6 years and who weighs less than 60 lbs. shall be restrained in a child safety seat that is properly secured to the vehicle.
- A child over 6 years or weighing at least 60 lbs. shall be restrained by a safety belt that is properly secured to the vehicle.
Section 27-37- Mandatory seat belt use
- Each driver and the front seat passenger in any vehicle shall be secured by a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt that is properly secured to the car.
More on the Law & Fines
- For physical or medical reasons, a child who may be unable to be restrained in a child passenger seat or by a safety seatbelt and provides a certification from a physician stating the nature of the medical conditions and why such child may not use a restraint system or safety seatbelt.
- Violation and Fine:
- A child passenger protection act violation attracts a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $100.
- A violation of the mandatory seat belt use attracts a fine of not more than $25. However, the total amount of penalties levied shall not exceed $45.
Arkansas Rear Facing Law
Arkansas requires that children under 6 years and weighing less than 60 lbs. be secured in a car seat; however, there is no mention of a type of seat.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing car seat. Up to the age of 2 to an upper limit of 4.
Most car seat models can accommodate a reasonable weight and height limit for a rear-facing car seat.
After a child outgrows the weight and height limit for a rear-facing car seat, they can be transferred to a forward-facing car seat.
Arkansas Forward Facing Law
A forward-facing car seat is recommended when a child outgrows the weight and height limit for the rear-facing infant seat.
A child is to ride forward-facing until they outgrow the manufacturer’s limits.
A recommended car seat to buy that can accommodate your child for a longer time in both rear-facing and forward-facing is the convertible car seat type.
This type of car seat can be used in rear-facing and later converted to forward-facing according to the child’s weight and height. This will be a good option when planning a car seat to buy during pregnancy. Here’s a guide on how to choose a convertible car seat.
Arkansas Booster Seat Law & Requirements
Arkansas skipped the use of a booster seat in its laws. By car seat manufacturers’ recommendations, a child is to ride in a booster seat after outgrowing the forward-facing seat, usually from 8 years.
However, for Arkansas, it is different. A child can go straight to using a seat belt at age 6. This will not be a violation of the car seat laws in Arkansas as it would have been in other states.
Nonetheless, for the absolute protection of your child, you are recommended to use a belt-positioning booster seat after the forward-facing seat according to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions on weight and height limits.
A booster seat must be secured with a combination of the lap and shoulder belts and never the lap belts only.
Arkansas Seat Belt Laws
Arkansas seat belt law requires that children at least 6 years or weighing at least 60 lbs. be restrained by a safety belt properly secured to the vehicle.
However, this law has a flaw (permit me to say). A child needs to fit correctly in a seat belt to be adequately secured.
Car seat manufacturers recommend that a child remains in a booster seat till they reach the height and body size that can fit properly in a seat belt.
Here are guidelines to help you know if your child may move to use a seat belt;
- The lap belt part must fit across the child’s thighs and hips and not across the abdomen;
- The shoulder belt part must cross the center of the child’s chest and not the neck; and
- The child can sit all the way in the vehicle seat with his back flat against the seatback with his knees bent over the seat edge.
The recommended age for a child to ride in a seat belt is 8-12 years.
On the other hand, you have to ensure your child is big enough for the seat belt to fit correctly and securely before transitioning from a booster seat; else, you let your child ride in a booster seat till they are big enough.
Other Arkansas Car Seat Laws You Should Know
Other Passengers in a Car
A safety seat belt must secure the driver and all other vehicle occupants above 16 years.
Arkansas Front Seat Law – Can A Child Sit in The Front Seat?
Arkansas laws do not mention about a child sitting in the front seat; however, it is not a recommended practice for a child less than 13 years to sit in front. Children under 13 years are to ride in the back seat in a child restraint system or a safety belt.
On the other hand, the legal age for a child to ride in the front seat is 13 years.
For Ubers, Taxis, or Cabs in Arkansas
Taxis are exempted from the Arkansas car seat laws.
Nevertheless, you are not to neglect the safety of your child. A car safety seat is manufactured to protect your child.
So, even if the law may not impose strict compliance, you should still make it your responsibility to practice safety.
To make installation easy in a taxi, you can use the safety seat without the base, which is pretty easy to install. Here’s a guide to help you install without the base.
Leaving a Child Unsupervised in a Vehicle in Arkansas
Arkansas has no laws regarding leaving a child unattended in the car. It is recommended that a child be accompanied by a person at least 12 years of age.
Smoking Around Children in a Car in Arkansas – is it Illegal?
The “Arkansas Protection from Secondhand Smoke for Children Act of 2006” prohibits anyone from smoking in a vehicle around a child under 14 years.
A person who violates this law shall be punished by a fine of $25.
Helpful Resource – Car Seat Inspection in Arkansas
Here are some go-to resources for more help on car seat safety, installation, and inspection in Arkansas: