Traveling with young children is not always easy. You might recognize the immense importance of using a safety-approved car seat to protect your child, yet one might not always be available if you are traveling via taxi or rideshare vehicle. It might also be illegal in Alabama to travel with your child without using a car seat or booster seat. If you are planning a trip with your small child to a city where you know you will rely on taxis to get around, learn how to travel safely and legally.
How to Travel Safely With Your Child
If you need to take your child around a city by taxi, come prepared with a portable safety seat system. Purchase a certified safety system , a child restraint system might not be a legal requirement, but it could save your child’s life if the taxi driver gets into an accident.
Only use a regular seat belt on your small child in a taxi as a last resort. Since taxis are exempt from Alabama’s car seat law, you can legally buckle your child up in the seat next to you. However, this may not make your child safe. An adult seat belt will not have the correct contact points on your small child, potentially causing serious injuries in a collision. In 2017, 35% of children 12 and younger who lost their lives in car accidents in the U.S. were not properly buckled into their seats.
Note that Alabama’s taxi exemption does not apply to rideshare vehicles. If you wish to use a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft with young kids, you will need to either tote your own car seat or booster seat or use Uber Car Seat – an option that may be available in your city. These Uber vehicles offer inspected and approved car seats for an added surcharge. The operator of the Uber will have training on how to install the car seat. Lyft offers a similar service (Car Seat Mode), but only in New York City.
Car Seat Laws in Alabama
As is the case in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Alabama requires children to ride in car seats or booster seats in motor vehicles. Alabama Code Section 32-5-222 states that every person transporting a child in a motor vehicle in the state must provide for the protection of that child by using a proper child passenger restraint system meeting federal safety standards. The type of restraint system required depends on the age, weight and height of the child.
- Rear-facing car seat. Newborns up to children one year old must ride in rear-facing car seats in the backseat of a vehicle.
- Forward-facing car seat. Children will graduate to this type of car seat upon reaching one year old or 20 pounds.
- Booster seat. A booster seat is legal in Alabama once a child reaches five years old or 40 pounds. A child must remain in a booster seat until age six by law.
- Seat belt. The general rule is to keep a child in a booster seat until he or she is at least 4’9” in height. A child must lawfully continue to use a seat belt until the age of 15.
Compared to other states, Alabama’s car seat law is relatively lax. The penalty is a $25 fine per offense. According to section (h) of this law, the child passenger restraint system requirement does not apply when traveling in a taxi or motor vehicle that seats 11 or more passengers. This does not, however, mean you should allow your child to go without a car seat in a taxi. A car seat protects a child from serious personal injuries in case of a car crash.