The Maryland law states that children must ride in a child restraint system until they are at least eight years old, unless they are over four feet nine inches tall. Most children are between 8 to 12 years old before they can safely ride in just a seat belt alone. When considering if a child can ride with a seat belt, ask these questions:
- Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
- Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
- Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
- Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
- Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If "no" is the answer to any of these questions, a child booster seat must be used to make both the shoulder belt and the lap belt fit right for the best crash protection.
We can send a PDF from our website that shows the proper fit for seat belts. Remember, when a child can safely ride with just a lap and shoulder belt depends on the vehicle. It is not uncommon for children to be able to ride safely in one family vehicle with the seat belt and not in another one.