The Importance of Car/Booster Seats

Older children have a higher rate of injury than younger ones for several reasons. Many of them place the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the back. They tend to ride out of position, either sliding forward to the edge of the vehicle seat or slouching downward.

Older children are less likely to be buckled up, perhaps because vehicle seats and belts are not comfortable for them.

The State of Wisconsin has joined a growing number of states that now require the use of booster seats by older children up to the age of 8.

Generally, children must be properly restrained in a child safety seat until they reach age 4, and in a booster seat until age 8.

To schedule an appointment to check the safety of your car seat, please email or text/call 608-333-6087. Car seat checks are provided by the Safe Kids Madison Area Coalition. Appointments are offered weekly and are ongoing.

The new law includes the following four-step progression for effective child safety protection in vehicles:

  1. Rear-facing child safety seat in the back seat* is required when the child:

    • Is less than 1-year-old or
    • Weighs less than 20 pounds.
  2. Forward-facing child safety seat in the back seat* is required when the child:
    • Is at least 1-year-old but less than 4-years-old
    • Weighs at least 20 pounds but less than 40 pounds.
  3. Booster seat is required when the child:
    • Is at least 4-years-old but less than 8-years-old
    • Weighs at least 40 pounds but less than 80 pounds
    • Is not 57-inches (4-feet, 9-inches) or taller.
  4. Safety belt is required when the child:
    • Is 8-years-old or older or
    • Weighs 80 or more pounds or
    • Is 57-inches or taller

*Child safety seat must be in the back seat if the vehicle is equipped with a back seat


  • Children whose body-size, physical condition, or medical condition makes safety restraints unreasonable are still exempt from the booster seat and safety belt laws.
  • There is no longer a “personal needs” exemption allowing the child to be removed from a safety restraint to attend to the child’s personal needs, such as feeding or diapering, while the vehicle is moving.


Learn more about booster seats:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (1-888-327-4236) or The National SAFE KIDS Campaign (1-800-441-1888).

Or go to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or Safe Kids Worldwide. Both groups can provide information on child passenger safety or locate a trained and certified child passenger seat technician near you.