Car Laws & Safety

Kansas Car Seat Laws: Safety Requirements [2021 Update]

Kansas car seat laws apply to all passenger vehicles designed to carry less than 10 passengers. They are broken down into stages based on your child’s age with further recommendations for the safest practices. 

Kansas car seat requirements vary by age and weight of the child. In this article, we cover those various stages. These laws apply to those living or traveling within the state. NOTE: Highway patrol can fine you $60 plus court costs if a child is caught unrestrained in your vehicle.

Kansas Carseat Stages 

There are four main stages for child car seat safety recommended by the Kansas State Patrol. However, these are merely guidelines, and you should not move your child to the next level simply based on age.

Rear-Facing Car Seat

Kansas rear-facing car seat laws for infants require rear-facing seats until at least 12 months. You can find infant-only seats that exclusively rear face. However, those in convertible safety seats that can also be forward-facing should maintain the rear-facing position until the child is at least one-year-old. 

Simply being rear-facing is not the only position of importance. It is critical to get a seat for an infant at the right incline to prevent obstruction of the airway caused by the head drooping forward. Each car seat should have an indicator to help you find the correct rear-facing angle. 

Some seats have ranges so the child can sit more upright as they age — so ensure you put it at the right angle for the current age of your infant. 

Forward-Facing Car Seat

It is recommended that your toddlers stay in the rear-facing position as long as possible. A small child is much safer in that position. Kansas Highway Patrol recommends waiting to switch positions until your child has reached the weight and height limits specified by the car seat manufacturer.

Once the position of the car seat is changed to forward-facing, the child still needs to be secured into the seat with a harness — not the car’s installed seatbelts.

Kansas Booster Seat laws

Kansas Booster Car Seat laws state that, around age 4, children will start to outgrow the forward-facing car seat. However, Kansas law states that they still must be placed into a booster seat until age 7.

There are a few exceptions to this age requirement. Children who are taller than 4’9” or who weigh more than 80 pounds may graduate out of the booster seat.

Once the child has outgrown the booster seat, he or she must still be properly buckled using the car’s installed seat belt. It is always safer for children under the age of 13 to ride in the backseat.  Parents should ensure that their children meet the five-point when using the car’s installed seatbelt:

The Five-Point Test

To begin the test, have your child sit in the vehicle’s seat. Then check for the following five points:

  1.   Their back is against the vehicle seatback
  2.   Their knees are comfortable bent at the edge of the seat.
  3.   The lap belt sits on top of their thighs (not the belly)
  4.   The shoulder belt sits between the neck and shoulders, across the chest
  5.   They are sitting properly with no slouching 

It is important that the child be old and mature enough to maintain this position and refrain from playing with the seatbelt. It is also a good idea to ensure that the child is able to stay in a safe position when sleeping. 

When Can a Child Ride in the Front Seat in Kansas? 

Your child should not sit in the front seat until at least age 13. For children 14-18, the Kansas law states that a child of this age is allowed to ride in the front seat,  but it is still safer for teens to ride in the back seat. 

You will know they are ready when the seat belt sits properly — the lap belt across the upper thighs and the shoulder harness across the chest. 

NOTE: It is also illegal for children to be in any area not designed for passenger use such as the back of a pickup truck. 

Why You Should Obey Car Seat Laws?

Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in children, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least 59% of car seats are installed incorrectly. Each state has its own specific regulations when it comes to car seat requirements, and Kansas is no exception.

Kansas child car seat safety laws are designed to protect your children from preventable injuries and death. Injuries for children requiring treatment at a hospital in Kansas for 2017 were 190 children every hour. You can find more information about Kansas car seat laws on the highway patrol website.

Additional Car Seat Safety Tips

The following six tips offer additional information on how to keep your child safe in a car seat.

  • Purchase from a trusted source 
  • Register the seat
  • Check regularly for damage
  • Replace seat after car crashes
  • Do not install aftermarket products
  • Monitor fit of harness with bulky clothing

You always want to make sure that you purchase your child’s car seat from a trusted source so that you can be sure that you know the crash history and general condition of the seat.

Seat manufacturers can have specific requirements on how seats are cleaned, etc., a third party seller may not provide proper manuals/instructions. After purchase, you should register your car seat so that you will be notified of any safety recalls

If the car seat should be checked often to ensure that it is in good repair. You should look for damage including cracks, loose parts, worn straps, and fasteners. If the car seat is involved in a crash, it may need to be discarded.

Moderate to severe crashes generally require the car seat be replaced, but it may even be necessary after a minor collision. The manufacturer replacement guidelines should contain this information and should be read thoroughly.

Aftermarket Products & Bulky Clothes Are Risky

It is also important to, never install aftermarket products. Products not provided by the manufacturer are not recommended as they have not been safety tested with the seat. 

Bulky clothing will prevent the harness from tightening properly, but it will compress in a crash possibly leading to the child being ejected from the seat.

You can check this by buckling the child securely in the seat with their clothing on and without changing the straps, place the child in without the bulky items to see the difference. 

Carseat Safety Resources

There are many models of child safety seats on the market and not every model will work for your child or your vehicle. If you want to ensure that your car seat meets all of the requirements of Kansas car seat laws, the highway patrol headquarters will check or install your car seat for free.

There are also certified car seat technicians that can help you with your concerns. A technician can help you choose the correct seat, install your already purchased seat, or simply answer your questions. You can also find a certified car seat technician here.

Want answers right now? There are car seat safety videos available here. You can also connect with other parents on Facebook by joining the “Safe Kids Kansas” group.

The group provides resources checklists, videos, and safety quizzes for parents. The goal of the group is to prevent accidental childhood injuries and deaths. 

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren

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