New rules for driving with children on board come into effect Thursday

New guidelines from the province expect children who are under a certain height, or who are younger than nine, to be in a booster seat starting Thursday.

Drivers who aren’t following the new rules could face a fine of $80 to $100 and three demerit points, according to Quebec’s automobile insurance board (SAAQ).

The child can be younger than nine and out of booster seats if they are taller than 145 centimetres — or 4-9 — when standing. The previous rule stated that children had to be 63 centimetres high when seated.

SAAQ spokesperson Mario Vaillancourt said the new rules will help prevent serious injuries.

He said that, based on studies from around the world, keeping children in booster seats helps keep them safe.

Certified child passenger safety instructor Marie-Pier Carpentier said the main thing to understand about the new rules is that the seatbelt must fall across the hips and shoulder of the child — not over the neck and stomach.

The SAAQ recommends that children under the age of 12 ride in the back seat, but that isn’t mandatory.

The change to the Highway Safety Code was first put forward in a bill in late 2017.

Every year, more than 1,000 children under the age of nine are victims of road accidents, and child seats can reduce the risk of serious injury or death by up to 70 per cent, according to the SAAQ.

Parents should use three types of seats: newborns who weigh less than 10 kilograms should be in an infant seat; children who weigh more need to be put in a child safety seat; and children over 18 kilograms need to be in a booster seat until their height or age meets the parameters set by the SAAQ.

The SAAQ recommends parents make an appointment with one of its child safety seat inspectors to ensure the seat meets regulations and is properly installed.

Tips from the SAAQ:

  • Seat must have the Transport Canada compliance label. It is illegal to have one from another country, because standards are not the same.
  • Complete and send the registration card to the manufacturer in case there is a recall.
  • Respect the seat’s expiration date. Materials lose resistance over time.
  • Always replace the seat after an accident, even if the child was not in the seat.
  • Using a second-hand seat is strongly discouraged; reselling or lending a car seat made before 2012 is not authorized by Health Canada.