A common question asked regarding traffic violations in Kansas is what exact ages are child safety seats legally required versus seat belts? In a prior post, we examined the requirements and exemptions for seat belt equipment in Kansas vehicles. This post will review the Kansas statute requiring the ages needed for child safety seats. This statute is located in K.S.A. 8-1344.
Kansas seems to require different seats for a child under the age of four versus over four years of age, but less than eight. Once a child reaches either years of age (or if the child weighs over 80 pounds), then seat belts are then required. The type of safety seat required for children under four versus children over four is found in the federal motor vehicle safety standards. For our purpose in this post, however, we do learn the age requirements in Kansas for safety seats.
As with most of our traffic statutes, this one is also strict liability. There is no allowance for any justifiable neglect or excuse in not having or using the proper safety seat. A prosecutor would simply have to show the seat was not being used and the passenger fit within the required age.
For defense counsel, there does seem to be a weight exception for children over 80 pounds and this should be reviewed in a case of a child wearing a seat belt instead of being in a safety seat.
What I find most curious about this statute is it specifically states that if all securing stations are in use properly and there are still more children in the car, then there is no violation of this statute. It seems strange the legislature would not want to deter those persons who place too many children in their car by not making sanctions for the children who are not in safety seats simply because all the securing belts are already being used.
Until next time, drive safe!