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If you've been reading our section on car seats, you know how important it is to have your infant in a car seat anytime your car is in motion. But beyond that, it's not only a safety issue – it's a legal issue. If you're traveling anywhere in the United States, you are required by law to have children up to three years of age ride in a child safety seat. Even more stringent are requirements in states like California and Oregon, which require children under six years in age or 60 pounds in weight to ride in appropriate child safety seats. Some states like New Jersey and North Carolina require car seats for a child who is under eight years old and under 80 pounds. Fines can vary state to state from $10 to $200.
However, we think the repercussions of safety issues are much bigger than the fine you'll have to pay. If you're not sure what the requirements are for the state you live in or are traveling to, check with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (www.iihs.org) for comprehensive information.