Transitioning From a Car Seat to a Seat Belt

The law requires that children be properly secured in a seat adapted to their weight and height until they are able to use a seat belt alone.

Car seats: it's the law

The law requires that children be secured in a child safety seat that is appropriate for their weight and height until they are 145 cm tall or 9 years old.

Depending on the child's weight and height, this seat should be either a rear-facing seat, a front-facing seat or a booster seat. See the page Choosing and Using the right seat at the right time to find out more.

Children aged 12 or younger: in the back seat

This is the safest place for them, since they are seated as far away as possible from the points of impact in the event of a head-on collision.

If you break the law

In addition to putting a child's life in danger, you are committing an offence under the Highway Safety Code  and are liable to:

  • a fine of $80 to $100
  • 3 demerit points

How to properly secure children using a seat belt

  • Their backs must be flat against the seat's backrest.
  • Their legs must be long enough that their knees are bent over the edge of the seat.
  • The seat belt must cross over the collarbone (the shoulder), not over the neck.
  • The seat belt must cross over the hips (pelvis), not over the abdomen.

This will help prevent children from sustaining serious injuries in the event of sudden braking or a collision, because the bones in the shoulders and hips are those best able to absorb the impact.

Children who are not tall enough and whose legs are too short 

Children whose legs are too short will tend to slide under the seat belt to get comfortable. In that position, the seat belt presses against their necks and stomachs, which could lead to serious injuries to the spine or internal organs in the event of an accident.

Children who cannot use a seat belt safely

They should continue to use a booster seat suited to their weight and height, even if they are 145 cm tall or 9 years old.

Airbags and car seats

Car seats should never be installed on the front passenger seat. Children aged 12 or younger should sit in the vehicle's back seat.

Airbags are proven, effective safety devices. However, deployment of the front airbag may result in injuries if a person is sitting too close to it. Children, regardless of whether they are in a car seat, are at risk of being in the front airbag’s deployment zone.

If you have no choice but to place a child in the front seat (in a car seat or otherwise), you must:


  • push the passenger seat all the way back so that the child is as far away as possible from the dashboard

Winter coats and car seats

Straps should be snug, in both warm and cold weather!

Each time you put your child in a car seat, make sure that your child is buckled in snugly by inserting a finger between the chest and the straps. If you have difficulty pushing your finger through, the straps are tight enough.

Check the fit around the shoulders and hips: your child's coat must not bunch up under the straps or behind his or her back. If your child's winter coat has not been sufficiently compressed, the straps will not be tight enough and will not restrain the child effectively in the event of a collision. The child could be hurt or thrown from the seat.

Last update: June  4, 2022