New Illinois law on rear-facing car seats takes effect January 1

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The New Year will ring in a new law for child car seats. Starting on January 1 children must stay in a rear-facing position until they are at least 2 years old.

Child safety experts said the position of the car seat can be a matter of life and death for a little one in an accident.

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Any parent on the road is concerned about properly installing their car sear.

"With a new baby, you're definitely paying attention to a lot of the discussion about safety and different seats and different requirements," said Kesia Miyashita, mother.

Although her son Toru is only 10-months-old, the family knows he'll be in a rear-facing seat for years. According to the new law, until he's at least 2 years old.

"We want to rear-face as long as possible, two is our bare minimum, but we actually want to go way beyond that - most kids can. We want to rear-face until they max out the height or weight limit on their car seat," said Jessica Choi, Safe Kids Chicago at Lurie Children's Hospital

Choi is Lurie's in-house expert on car seat safety. One concern she hears often from parents is that their children's legs are squished, or too long for the rear-facing seat.

"It's okay if they crisscross, they can hang out to the side, they can put them straight up, they can have those legs however they want to, and it's perfectly safe," she explained, demonstrating positions with a doll in a rear-facing car seat.
As far as education, departments like the Evanston Police Department have certified technicians to help parents. Reinaldo Rebollar installs more than 500 seats a year.

"Eighty-five percent of all car seats are not properly installed, so it's really important to have someone who is trained and certified to do this," said Rebollar, Evanston Police Child Seat Technician.

Ultimately, it's not about getting busted. It's about being safe.

"We want the public to know what's expected and we want to train our officers - it's safety before citations," said Evanston Police Cmdr. Ryan Glew.

Choi also recommends going to a child-focused stores where there are demo seats.

You can take those seats, place your child in the seat, and sometimes even in the car before you purchase it, just to make sure it's the right fit.
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