The State of Nevada’s seat belt and car seat safety program is named “Zero Fatalities – Drive Safe Nevada”. This program is constantly revising best practices and updating laws accordingly when it comes to car safety. This article will go over Nevada’s car seat laws from birth to adolescence, and beyond.
The law of Nevada mandates that any child less than 6 years of age and weighing less than 60 pounds must ride in an approved child restraint system. The law can be found in full detail here.
As your child grows, they pass through various car seat safety stages. In each stage, your child must use an appropriate child seat and/or safety restraint. It is important to know which stage your child is in based on their age, weight, and height to keep them safe.
It is important to recognize that the law isn’t saying after six years of age no rules apply. There are laws you must follow when your child is age 6 and above. Additionally, it is vital to know what constitutes an approved child restraint system for your child’s weight, height, and age.
Rear-Facing Car Seat Law
From birth to age 1 your child should use a rear-facing car seat. This can either be an infant seat or a convertible seat. This seat should be placed in the back seat of your vehicle.
You should keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible. This typically means until they exceed the height and weight limits. In most cases, this can be a few years past age 1. With many car seats having rear weight limits of close to 50 pounds, your child may be closer to 5 years old before they transition to a forward-facing seat.
Forward-Facing Car Seat Law
From age 1-3 Nevada’s best practices recommend a forward-facing car seat. However, a forward-facing seat should only be used if your child has exceeded the weight and height specifications of their rear-facing car seat.
Most experts recommend a weight of at least 20 pounds before transitioning to a forward-facing seat. The forward-facing seat should still have a harness restraint system. Also, it should be placed in the back seat of your vehicle.
Forward-facing car seats can have maximum weight limits of close to 90 pounds. The height limit is generally the point when your child’s head is 1 inch below the top of the seat. These generous maximums mean that your child can use a convertible forward-facing seat for quite a while. When they exceed these limitations, they are ready for the next child restraint.
Child Booster Seat Law
Once your child has outgrown their forward-facing car seat, they can move on to a booster seat. This is generally between 4 and 7 years old. Experts recommend that the child weigh at least 40 pounds. A booster seat is a belt positioner and uses the vehicle’s seat belt to restrain the child occupant.
Therefore, it is important not to transition to a booster seat too early. Don’t put your child in a booster seat until they exceed the manufacturer’s guidelines of their forward-facing seat. The booster should still be placed in the rear seat of the vehicle. The Zero Fatalities Program also recommends the following:
- Do not use only a lap belt on a booster meant to be used with a lap and shoulder belt
- Do not use books, pillows, towels, or cushions to boost your child
When your child outgrows the booster seat they can use the car’s lap and shoulder seatbelt.
Lap-Shoulder Seat Belt Law
After a booster seat, your child may use the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt. This is generally between ages 8 and 12. To graduate from the booster seat, the vehicle’s seat belt must fit your child properly. All passengers and drivers in the state of Nevada are required to wear a seat belt.
Nevada does not issue a height requirement, but it is recommended that children do not stop using a booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall. Even without a booster seat, they should continue to sit in the back seat. Additionally, the shoulder belt should never be placed behind the child’s back or arm.
To check for a proper fit and determine seat belt readiness, using the below check is recommended.
Check For Readiness with These 5 Steps
- Is your child’s back flush with the seat belt back?
- Do their knees bend comfortably over the seat edge, and their feet can touch the floor?
- Is the lap belt low on the hips, touching their thighs?
- Does the shoulder belt cross at the mid-point between the shoulder and neck?
- Can they remain seated this way for the entire car ride?
The 5th check is an important one. Even if the seat belt fits your child properly they must be mature enough to remain upright and safely positioned for the entire car ride. Until they can do this, they should use a booster.
When Can My Child Ride In the Front Seat?
Nevada states that children should be kept in the back seat until at least age 12. Although, many experts recommend that children remain in the backseat until at least age 13.
Before age 13 the impact of an airbag deploying can prove to be fatal. Even when your child is eligible to sit in the front seat it is advised that you push the vehicle seat as far back as possible. This will help limit the impact of the airbag.
Four Stages of Seat Safety in Nevada
Children from birth to six need a proper child restraint as mandated by Nevada law. Children beyond six need an approved booster seat and can eventually transition to a lap-shoulder seat belt. For each stage, the approved restraints are:
- Rear-facing seat, either an infant seat or a convertible seat
- Forward-facing seat
- Belt-positioning booster seat
- Lap-shoulder seat belt
At age 12 your child can begin sitting in the front seat. They should still use the lap-shoulder belt. All drivers and passengers are required to wear a seat belt in Nevada.
Nevada Car Seat Law for Taxi/Uber
In Nevada, car seat laws do not apply to public transportation, this includes taxis. It is unclear if Ubers are exempt. Regardless, your child is safest in an appropriate child restraint. You should either bring your car seat with you or inquire about renting on when using a taxi or an Uber.
Other Laws Regarding Children and Vehicles in Nevada
- Passengers under 18 may not ride in the back of a pickup or flatbed truck under the “Kids aren’t cargo” mandate
- Car seat laws don’t apply to children using public transportation or a school bus
- Car seat laws do not apply to children riding in emergency vehicles
- It is possible to obtain a medical exemption to the Nevada car seat laws
- Nevada does not have a law regarding smoking in a car with children
- Nevada law mandates you cannot leave a child aged 7 or younger alone in a car if either of the following is true:
- The conditions present a significant risk to the health and safety of the child
- The engine of the vehicle is running, or the keys to the vehicle are in the ignition
What Happens If I Don’t Follow the Law?
Nevada is serious about child safety. If you are found in violation of the car seat safety laws you can face both fines and community service. The consequences are as follows:
- First offense: $100-$500 and 10-50 hours of community service
- Repeat offenses: $500-$1000 and 50-100 hours of community service
- Three or more offenses: possible suspension of your driver’s license for 30-180 days
On some occasions, the court may allow you to complete car seat training and inspection to waive your fines for a first offense. For the second offense, the court may only halve your fines and community service. However, the waiver is a once in a lifetime deal meaning you can only receive a waiver once in your life.
Though Nevada law does not specifically mandate what type of child restraint you must use other than being within the height and weight limits, you should always keep your child in the appropriate stage or car seat as long as possible.
Do not transition your child to the next step too early. To keep them as safe as possible, wait until they meet or exceed the height and weight limits of their current seat. Nevada strives for zero fatalities with their car seat laws and so should you.