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Child Passenger Safety

Child in car seat

Ohio Law

Ohio's Child Passenger Safety Law

Booster Seat

Download the Ohio Child Passenger Safety brochure.

Ohio's child passenger safety law is defined in Ohio Revised Code 4511.81.

As of October 7, 2009, Ohio’s children are required to use belt-positioning booster seats once they outgrow their child safety seats until they are 8 years old, unless they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches (57 inches) tall.  

Ohio’s child passenger safety law requires the following:

  • Children less than 4 years old or 40 pounds must use a child safety seat meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards.

  • Children less than 8 years old, unless they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall must use a booster seat.

  • Children ages 8-15 years must use a child safety seat or safety belt.

Fines will range from a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $75 per occurrence. A booster seat can be purchased for as little as $15.  Don’t wait for a ticket! 


How long should my child remain rear facing?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics technical package released in August 2018, all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing child safety system as long as possible until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their child safety system's manufacturer.

Why isn’t the seat belt enough? Seat belts were designed for adults and can leave a child at risk of serious injury in a motor vehicle crash.

  • Booster seats raise a child up so the shoulder belt fits correctly, by lying over the middle of the shoulder and the center of the chest – the strongest parts of a child’s body. The booster seat also positions the lap belt across the child’s upper hips or thighs, not over the stomach. Without a booster seat, the lap belt can ride up onto the stomach and cause hip, stomach and spinal cord injuries in a crash.  
  • Using a booster seat with a seat belt instead of using a seat belt alone for a child reduces the risk of injury in a crash by 59 percent. Researchers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimate that more than half the children killed in motor vehicles in motor vehicle crashes each year would be alive today if seat belt use and child safety seat use were at 100 percent.

Why is the law important? Most Ohio children are still not in booster seats.

  • Motor vehicle traffic remains the leading cause of death for Ohio children ages 4 to 7 years.  From 1999 to 2006, at least 34 Ohio children aged 4 to 7 years died as occupants in motor vehicles (Source: Office of Vital Statistics).  
  • In 2007, Ohio’s booster seat use rate for children aged 4 to 8 years was only 18 percent, one of the lowest in the country. (Source: Partners for Child Passenger Safety). Research studies have found that child restraint laws are very effective at increasing appropriate child restraint usage (Source: CDC Community Guide).


What is the best booster seat to buy?

The Violence and Injury Prevention Section does not endorse any particular child safety or booster seat. It is important to properly use one that meets current federal motor vehicle safety standards and fits well in your vehicle. The following resources may be of help in selecting a booster seat:


When should my child move from a booster seat to a seat belt?

A booster seat is designed to place a child higher on the vehicle seat so that the lap/shoulder belt fits correctly. Seat belt fit varies from car to car and from person to person.  It is safest for your child to remain in a booster seat until the adult seat belt system fits him/her properly as follows:

  • Your child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with his/her knees bent at the edge of the seat without slouching.

  • The shoulder belt lies in middle of his/her chest and shoulder, not his/her neck or throat.

  • The lap belt is low and snug across the upper thighs, not the belly.

  • Your child can stay in this position comfortably throughout the entire trip.

Additional information on proper fitting can be found at: http://www.carseat.org/.


Car Seat Program

The Ohio Buckles Buckeyes (OBB) Program

The Ohio Department of Health's child passenger safety (CPS) program, Ohio Buckles Buckeyes (OBB), provides child safety seats and booster seats to eligible, low income families in all Ohio counties.  The overall goals of this program are to increase the availability of child safety seats for families who could not otherwise afford them and to increase correct installation and proper use of child safety seats. 

Through the coordinated efforts of a network of local and regional CPS coordinators, the OBB Program distributes child safety seats and booster seats and provides CPS education. The OBB Program has distributed more than 17,000 child safety seats and booster seats to low income families in Ohio over the past five years. 

Requirements for the Ohio Buckles Buckeyes Program

In order to receive an OBB seat, income eligible* families must attend an educational class provided by trained local CPS staff.  In this session, the parent/caregiver(s) receives important education on how to properly use the car seat for their child, and they are instructed on how to correctly install the seat in their vehicle.

*income must be within Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Program guidelines, although the recipient does not need to be enrolled in the WIC Program

Occupant Protection Regional Coordinators (OPRCs)

The OBB Program works in close collaboration with a network of regional CPS coordinators who provide technical assistance, training and educational resources to the local OBB sites in their regions. The regional CPS coordinators assist the OBB sites in the implementation, coordination and evaluation of their distribution programs. They offer a mechanism for ensuring that the local sites have trained personnel and are in compliance with program requirements.  

The regional CPS coordinators also coordinate CPS check-up events and establish fitting station sites at the local level.  Car seat checks and fitting stations are specific locations sponsored by community organizations where parents and other caregivers can receive education and training from a certified CPS technician on how to properly install and use their child safety seat.  The regional CPS coordinators also conduct the 32-hour CPS technician certification courses throughout Ohio.  These courses are important so that there are trained technicians in all communities to staff the check-up events, fitting stations and OBB sites.

Program Funding

The OBB Program is funded by child restraint fines deposited into the Child Highway Safety Fund.  Funding for the regional CPS coordinators comes from the Ohio Traffic Safety Office at the Ohio Department of Public Safety which receives funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Contact information

For more information, or to contact the program in your county, call 800-755-GROW (4769).

Mailing Address:
Ohio Department of Health
Childhood Passenger Safety
246 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Telephone: (800) 755-GROW (4769)
Fax: (614) 644-7740

E-mail: HealthyOhio@odh.ohio.gov

Resources and Links

Ohio Resources

Ohio Law - Ohio Revised Code 4511.81

Boost Ohio's Kids Brochure

Pocket Card of Ohio Occupant Protection Laws

Ohio Child Passenger Safety Coordinators Contact Information

Local Resources for Safety Advocates

Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, Injury Prevention Center

Dayton Children’s Resources – Navigating Booster Seats

Center for Injury Research and Policy, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Other Links

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

Safety Belt Safe USA

Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) State Laws

Kid's Health Auto Safety

Safe Kids USA Car Seats, Booster Seats and Seat Belt Safety