OpenRoad's child car seat FAQ

July 28th 2015 | Benjamin Yong

Unless you regularly care for young ones, child car seats are probably something of a mystery until you have kids of your own. When that time comes, all the terminology surrounding the equipment can be overwhelming — which is why we help break it down in this children’s car seat FAQ.

What is a child car seat?

A child car seat, also sometimes referred to as child safety seat or infant car seat, is specially designed to comfortably and securely support children inside a vehicle, while also providing protection against injury during an accident.

Is a child car seat mandatory?

Yes —  all children under 9 years old must be restrained using an approved child car seat in accordance with Division 36 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act (BCMVA). For children between the ages of 9 and 16, they must be seated where a lap/shoulder belt is available (section 220 BCMVA).

What types of child car seats are there?

Depending on the child’s age, there are three different types of specialized seating available:

• Rear-facing: for babies/infants up to one year old, a rear-facing child seat points towards the seat back and helps to protect developing spines, neck and back muscles in the event of a collision. This design is for use in the back seat area to keep the child away from the front airbag. 

• Forward-facing: like the name suggests, these seats face the the front of the car and can be used for as long as the child falls within the accepted height and range weight for the particular model. Also intended for installation in the back seat of the vehicle.

• Booster seat: when a child weighs over 40 kilograms, and under 145 centimetres, it may be time to switch to a booster seat. Install the booster in any of the back seats that have both a lap and shoulder restraint available.

How do you install a child car seat?

Always consult both the vehicle owner’s manual and the the instructions for your particular make and model of child car seat when attempting installation. 

Are there any other resources for more information?

• Transport Canada offers tips and advice in the Child Safety section of their website.

• A number of organizations in B.C. provide in-person training for installing and using child car seats, including BCAA and the Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada.

• The video above shows how to install a forward-facing child car seat, uploaded by the Government of Ontario.

About the Author

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5.

Twitter: @b_yong
Instagram: @popuplights