Child passenger safety laws in 21 states still don't meet safety recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board, which for the last 14 years has called for child restraint laws to cover all children up to age 8.
"This means that millions of children remain at risk of injury or fatality every day on our highways," Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said in a press statement.
Florida has the most lenient child passenger safety law in the nation, requiring child safety seats only for children 3 years or younger. The laws in Arizona, South Dakota, American Samoa and Puerto Rico are slightly more protective, covering children age 4 or under. Twelve states (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and South Carolina) mandate child restraints for children age 5 or younger, and six states (Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, and North Dakota) cover children age 6 or younger, according to the safety board.
Improving child passenger safety has been on the Safety Board's Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements since 1997. Eight states last year enacted or upgraded booster seat laws, mandating their use up to age 8. Those states were Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas. Car insurance companies do not mandate booster laws, but encourage safety.