Whether you reside in Canada or are visiting, understanding the laws in relation to the use of child car seats and restraint systems is equally important. What’s also important to understand is how the laws change by province / territory, so whilst you may meet the requirements in Ontario, a short hop over the border into Quebec could be a different story. Wherever you plan to drive in Canada, you should ensure that any children travelling with you meet the minimum standards required in law for the most onerous province in which you are travelling.
It's important to stress that whilst some provinces have limited laws regarding the use of child car seats (for example, Alberta has no booster seat laws whatsoever and technically a child is no longer required to use a child seat beyond the age of 6 and/or 40lbs, it's widely accepted that children should use a suitable car seat until at least 4'9" (145cm) tall, at which time they should be passing the 5 Step Test.
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Car seats installed / used incorrectly
Children in seat belts still needed a booster
Children in booster seats not 40 lb (min weight)
FACTFILE: Child Car Seats in Canada
A roadside study in Canada by the The Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada concluded that whilst 99% of children travelling in a motor vehicle where travelling in a car seat, around three quarters were found to be in a car seat that was not installed correctly, nearly a third of kids using a booster seat did not meet the mandatory 18 kg (40 lb) minimum weight and a little over half were using adult seatbelts without a booster where they should have. Using the correct child car seat in Canada and using it correctly is critical to ensuring children travel safely by car and is governed and enforced by law throughout Canada. If you are found to be in breach of the law, expect a fine and demerit points (penalty points) on your licence.
- Road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death of children in Canada
- A correctly used child seat can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 71%
- 99% of children travelling in a car use a car seat / restraint system
- Only 27% were using the correct child seat / installed correctly
Do children need to travel in a car seat in a taxi in Canada?
Generally speaking, whilst the driver is responsible for all passengers under the age of 16 and must ensure they are using a suitable car seat / restraint system, taxi drivers are exempt meaning you can travel in a taxi with children, without a child car seat in Canada. It is however wise to avoid this situation where at all possible and either book a taxi with a car seat (advise the taxi provider in advance so they can provide a suitable seat), or find an alternative means of transport. Whilst not illegal to travel in a taxi* in Canada without a child seat, it represents significant danger to the child in the event of an accident.
Can I rent a child car seat with a rental car?
Yes, this is a good option for anyone renting a car and travelling with children. Whilst you can bring your own car seat, it is unlikely that your car seat will meet the legal requirements for travelling with children in Canada and whilst you may be satisfied that it is safe, should you car seat be found not to comply with the relevant road traffic laws in Canada (in whichever province you may be travelling within), you are likely to receive a fine. All car seats supplied by car rental agents in Canada will be fully compliant with the current regulations and be professionally installed into the rental car prior to your arrival.
*laws regarding taxi exemptions should be checked by province.