Child Passenger Safety

Hawaii law requires children under the age of four to ride in a child safety seat and children ages of four through seven to ride in a child safety seat or a booster seat when traveling in a motor vehicle. The driver will be held responsible for compliance with the law. Violators of the law are required to attend a 4-hour class and may be assessed a fine of $100-$500 depending upon the number of offenses.

A Hawaii State tax credit of $25 per year applies to the purchase of a booster or child safety seat.

Child Safety Seats

  • Children under the age of four are required to ride in a child safety seat when riding in a motor vehicle.
  • Always review the installation instructions accompanying the car seat and the vehicle.
  • Select the seat that best fits your child and your vehicle.
  • Children should be buckled up in the back seat since it has been proven to be the safest location in the vehicle.
  • Never put a rear-facing seat in the front seat of a vehicle with active front-passenger airbags.
  • Children should be kept rear-facing until the height or weight maximum of a rear-facing seat is reached.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics changed its rear-facing recommendation. It now recommends children ride rear-facing until the age of two.
  • Always ensure that harness straps are snug and that child is securely buckled up.

Booster Seats

  • Children ages of four through seven are required to ride in a child safety seat or a booster seat when riding in a motor vehicle.
  • There are child safety seats with harnesses rated up to 80 pounds for vehicles equipped with lap-only belts.
  • Booster seats should be used until the lap and shoulder belts fit correctly. The lap belt should fit low and snug on the hips, and the shoulder strap should not cross over the face or neck.
  • Never place the shoulder belt behind the child’s back or under the arm.
  • A child that cannot sit with his or her back against the seat back cushion with knees bent over the vehicle’s seat edge without slouching should continue to use a booster seat regardless of age, weight or height.

Types of Seats

  • Rear-Facing Seat – Infants from birth to at least one year old and at least twenty pounds must ride in rear-facing seats. However, it is recommended that infants be kept rear-facing in the back seat as long as possible, up to the height or weight limit of the seat. There are some seats available with rear-facing limits as high as 45 pounds.
  • Convertible Seat – Convertible seats can be used rear-facing, then converted to forward-facing. The seats can be used longer since the height and weight limits are higher than for infant-only seats.
  • Forward-Facing Seat – Children that have outgrown their rear-facing seats or that are at least one year old and twenty pounds should ride forward-facing in the back seat until age four.
  • Booster Seat – Children that are four through seven years of age should ride in booster seats in the back seat until the vehicle seat belts fit properly.

For more information on child passenger safety and for information on child safety seat inspection sites, please visit the Keiki Injury Prevention Coalition website at www.kipchawaii.org. Another resource on child safety seats is Safetybelt Safe’s website www.carseat.org or click here for a Birth to Boosters informational brochure.