The law for most u.s. states is that kids are required to stay in a car seat until they are 8 years old or 57 inches tall, whichever comes first.
when can a child stop using a car seat?
step one: children should use a car seat as long as they are within height and weight requirements for the child safety seat. this typically means until the child is around 4 foot 9 inches tall and between 80-100 pounds. the insurance institute for highway safety has a car seat calculator to assist parents with determining when children should stop using their safety seats.
step two: parents may choose to stop using a safety seat once it no longer fits, but this decision is not recommended by any federal agency because it could lead to injury in case of an accident or sudden stop.
the nhtsa recommends listening to local laws where residence live before making such decisions related to childrens' safe transportation within the region, and
does a 7 year old need a car seat?
a seat belt alone does not provide the same level of protection as a car seat because its straps cannot protect all areas of the spine and pelvis. a seat belt will hold your child securely in place to only one side of the vehicle, whereas a car seat with multiple straps encircles and cradles your child's body on both sides for greater safety.
that said, you should make sure that your child is comfortable and has freedom to easily buckle their own seat belt before expecting him/her to use it. making this call by age isn't always easy; we recommend using discretion still (rough estimate: if they can climb into an open-top portion of their house like a window or counter top
does a 4 year old need a car seat?
in most cases, yes.
in most cases a 4-year old needs a car seat. however, every state is different and has different requirements so be sure to contact your local dmv or ask an expert at the medical examiner's office for a decision on whether a 4-year old will need a car seat in your particular situation