Stage 4: Seat Belt

The minimum law in BC for children to move to a seat belt is at least 9 years old OR 4’9” tall, but more importantly, is whether the seat belt actually fits your child properly. Once your child can pass the ‘5 Step Test’ in whichever seating position s/he is in (and it might be different in each seat, or in different cars!), s/he can safely ride in a seat belt only. If the answer to any of the below is ‘NO’ then s/he must continue to use a booster seat.

1. Does the child sit all the way back in the vehicle seat?

2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?

3. Does the shoulder belt lay across the collarbone, not riding up on the neck or slipping off the shoulder?

4. Does the lap belt sit low and flat across the tops of the thighs, not riding up onto the belly?

5. Can the child remain seated like that the whole trip, even when sleeping?

According to Transport Canada, the back seat is the safest place for children 12 and under, or ideally until puberty. A lap/shoulder belt is much safer than a lap-only belt for children AND adults. A passenger in a lap-only belt is at increased risk of head and/or neck injuries as well as “seatbelt syndrome”. They also put any passengers next to them at more risk since they will move more in the event of a crash.

Stage 1: Rear facing
Stage 2: Forward facing
Stage 3: Booster seats
Stage 4: Seat belts