Child safety seats are ineffective unless used properly. Here's what you need to know about occupant restraints and how to choose the right seat for your child.

Facts to know:

  • From 2012 to 2016, there were 341 unbelted fatalities in Alberta.
  • In Alberta, the law requires that all occupants travelling in a motor vehicle use a seat belt or child safety seat that is properly worn and adjusted.
  • The law also states that children younger than 6 who weigh 18kg (40lbs) or less must be in a properly installed child restraint (i.e. a car seat).
  • Drivers are responsible for ensuring that all passengers under the age of 16 are properly secured using either a child safety seat or seat belt. Drivers may be fined for each unrestrained passenger under the age of 16.
  • The fine for not using a seat belt or child safety seat is $155.
  • Properly used seat belts can reduce fatal and serious injury by 45-65 per cent, depending on the type of vehicle and seating position.
  • Restraint users had a much lower injury rate (6.8 per cent) than those not using restraints (24.1 per cent) in collisions. Occupants using a restraint reduce the likelihood of sustaining an injury and the severity of injury decreases (2016).
  • Without a booster seat, a child is three and a half times more likely to suffer a significant injury.
  • Never re-use a child safety seat that has been in a crash, it may have cracks/weakened areas which keeps it from working properly.
  • Children are safest in the backseat


  • A child is safest in a rear-facing car seat until he/she is at least 2 years of age OR reaches the maximum weight or height limit for the rear-facing seat (as stated by the manufacturer).
  • A rear-facing seat provides the best protection for a child’s head, neck, and spine in a sudden stop or crash.


  • Once a child is at least 2 years of age OR has reached the maximum weight or height limit for their rear-facing car seat, they should be in a forward-facing car seat.
  • Use the forward-facing car seat until the child is at least 6 years old or weighs more than 18kg (40 lbs).


  • Once a child is at least 6 years old or weighs more than 18kg (40 lbs), they should use a booster seat.
  • Booster seats are not required by law in Alberta, but are highly recommended because they help position a child so the shoulder-lap belt fits across the child's chest and hips, rather than their neck and stomach.
  • A child is safest in a booster seat until they reach the manufacturer's maximum height or weigh limit for the booster seat and a seat belt fits properly.


  • A child is ready to exit a booster seat when the vehicle seat belt fits properly. This is typically when a child is at least 145 cm (4’9”) tall and between 8 and 12 years of age.
  • To check whether the seat belt fits, have the child sit against the back of the seat and buckle the seat belt. The child's knees should bend comfortably over the edge of the seat. The seat belt should cross between the child's neck and shoulder and over the child's hips.


Find out more about seat belts and child seats.