image - elderly man driving with his daughter

5. Do you drive with children or young adults?

If you drive with children or young adults, you carry an extra responsibility.

When used the correct way, child safety seats and safety belts offer the best protection for children and adults who are traveling in a motor vehicle. All 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, require that children be properly secured in a child safety seat or safety belt, as appropriate. Most states also require that motorists and adult passengers be properly buckled in a safety belt.

Although the vehicle user manual and/or child safety seat instructions will provide the best information, the following guidelines will help you to decide if the young people you are transporting are traveling safely. And don’t forget, the safest place for children 12 and under to sit is in the back seat.

Rear-facing child safety seats – go in the back seat for infants from birth to at least one year old and at least 20 pounds. Infants in rear-facing child safety seats must never ride in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger-side air bag.

image of rear-facing child safety seat

  • Forward-facing toddler safety seats – go in the back seat for children who are age one to about age four, and who weigh 20 to 40 pounds.

image of forward-facing toddler safety seat

  • Booster seats – go in the back seat for children who are about age 4 and 40 pounds to at least age 8, unless 4-feet 9-inches tall. A booster seat raises a child up so the lap and shoulder belt fit correctly.

image of booster seat

  • Adult safety belts – for children who are 8 years old or older or taller than 4-feet 9-inches. The lap belt should rest low and snug across the child’s upper thighs and not ride up across the child’s stomach. The shoulder belt should be centered on the child’s shoulder and across the chest. The child should be able to sit all the way back against the vehicle seat back with his or her knees bent comfortably over the edge of the seat.

  • The LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) System – is a new way to install child safety seats (not booster seats, car beds, or vests) without safety belts. Attachments on LATCH-equipped child safety seats fasten to anchors in LATCH-equipped vehicles. Most child safety seats and cars, minivans, and light trucks manufactured after September 1, 2002, are required to have LATCH.

LATCH works like this: a LATCH-equipped vehicle has at least two sets of small bars, called “anchors.” These anchors are located in the lower rear seat where the cushions meet the seat back. A LATCH-equipped child safety seat has a lower set of attachments that look like hooks, buckles or snaps. The lower attachments on the child safety seat connect to the lower anchors in the vehicle. Most forward-facing child safety seats also have an adjustable upper “tether” strap that has a hook at the end. This hook attaches to an additional upper anchor in the vehicle.

If your safety seat is not LATCH-equipped, it is still safe if: it has been correctly installed using a safety belt; it hasn’t been recalled; and it hasn’t been damaged or in a crash. Child safety seats that don’t have LATCH should be installed using safety belts, even in LATCH-equipped vehicles.

If your vehicle is not LATCH-equipped, you can still use a safety belt to safely install any child safety seat – even one with LATCH. Be sure to follow the instructions in your vehicle owner’s manual and in the child safety seat instruction booklet. You can also call the toll-free DOT Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236.

Remember, children are safest when properly restrained in the back seat.

For a child safety seat inspection by a certified technician, call
1-866-732-8243 (1-866-SEAT-CHECK) or visit

click "d" to read descriptiond

For more information about LATCH, child safety seats and traffic safety, visit or call the DOT Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236.

All children 12 and under should ride in the back seat.

For many older adults, driving is a sign of independence. While most senior citizens want to keep driving for as long as they can, no one wants to be a threat to themselves or to others because they are no longer able to drive safely. Self-awareness - both physical and mental - is the key to preserving independence and to driving safely.

Don’t forget:

When you are driving or riding in car, always wear your safety belt. Make sure that every person who is riding with you is also buckled up.