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Do Babies Have to Be in a Car Seat on a Charter Bus?

by Susan Revermann

Child safety restraint laws are strictly regulated in regular passenger vehicles, but charter buses are a different story. Because of the type, size and number of passengers on this mode of transportation, other rules apply. If you are planning to travel this way, you must consider a few topics first.

Car Seat Laws

Charter buses fall into the commercial vehicle category. Vehicles in this group are exempt from regular child restraint laws. It is not illegal to have your child out of a car seat when riding a charter bus, or a taxi, school bus or public transportation vehicle that transports more than 15 people.

Seat Belts

Most charter buses do not have the appropriate equipment to secure the car seat to the vehicle. Without a seat belt or lower latch anchor, the car seat doesn’t provide the safety it is designed for. However, if you find a charter bus that does have passenger seat belts, strap him in. Call ahead to check whether the specific bus you will be riding has seat belts.

Likelihood of Crashes

Because of the size and higher visibility of charter buses, the chances of it getting in an accident are less than a smaller vehicle, according to The Car Seat Lady website. Usually, but not always, buses travel at slower speeds, which also lowers the chances of getting in an accident. In the instance of a crash, the bulkier size of a bus absorbs some of the crash forces, which lowers the risk of a person getting injured.

Securing Options

When you take your baby on a charter bus without seat belts, you have a couple options on what to do with your little one. You can hold her on your lap and let her gaze out the window. If she is still small enough to fit in an infant carrier or baby wrap, secure one of these to your body and then place her in it against your body. You might be able to carry the car seat on, leave her in it and place it on the seat next to you, although the safety aspect of the car seat isn't part of the equation without the use of a seat belt or latch system. If you need a car seat for the rest of your journey, you can always bring it with you on the bus and stow it in an empty seat or ask the bus driver where he would like it.

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