We are currently planning a trip which will involve renting a car and driving in two different states. This brought up the questions: "Should we rent a car seat or bring our own?" and, "What are the state's seat belt laws anyway?" Which made me realize... I wasn't even sure of my own state's laws. We just kind of get into a routine of buckling up the same way each time. Meanwhile, our kids keep growing and before we know it, they're ready to move on to a different kind of seat.
It's very easy to find the laws regarding safety restraints just by searching for the key words: "seat belt laws [your state name]." This will give you the most detailed information for your state. If you're interested in seeing the laws in each state together on the same chart you can go to this website: http://www.iihs.org/laws/childrestraint.aspx. This is handy especially if you're going to be traveling by car through different states.
The next thing to consider is if you are using your car seats correctly. You may have your child buckled up, but if it's not done properly you may be doing more harm than good. This website, www.safekids.org, lists a whole lot of detailed safety tips to consider when setting up and using child restraint seats. For example: Did you know that car seats have an expiration date? My parents were using a car seat that had been expired for a few years already. Being that they would simply pile my sisters and me into the back seat of our VW Bug with nothing to stop us from flying out the front window save for the fact that we were packed in as tight as sardines-- it didn't occur to them that a car seat would have an expiration date. There may be some safety tips you are not aware of or that you just need some reminders of. So please take some time to review these tips and your seat's manual before the next time you buckle up your precious and fragile cargo.