Like most big cities, Chicago has an extensive public transportation system, which includes light rail, elevated trains and taxicabs. If you need to take your toddler in a taxi, you might debate about whether you need to haul his large, heavy car seat with you. Illinois law doesn't specifically require child restraint use in commercial vehicles such as taxis, although your child is certainly safer if you use one.
Illinois Car Seat Laws
Illinois car seat regulations, which cover the city of Chicago, mandate that children under age 8 ride in a child restraint system, either a car seat or booster. Children between the ages of 8 and 15 must wear a seat belt in the vehicle. However, these regulations apply only to non-commercial vehicles such as private cars, not to commercial vehicles such as taxicabs.
Commercial regulations for Illinois or the city of Chicago do not address the use of car seats in commercial vehicles or when using public transportation. Only a few large cities address this issue; in New York City, cabs are exempt from seat belt laws, according to the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Because taxis are an acceptable way to travel in big cities, it is easy to become complacent about using them without normal safeguards like seat belts in place. This is a mistake, the Car Seat Lady website warns. In New York City, taxis are involved in 27 percent of all car accidents and 17 percent of fatal accidents, the website reports. In multi-vehicle accidents, taxi passengers have three times the risk of relatively serious injury as those in other vehicles.
Protecting Your Child
If you call ahead for a taxi, ask if the cab carries car seats you can use or if the company has them available on request. If not, and you have to bring your own, ask if the back seat is equipped with easily accessible seat belts. Stand your ground if the cab driver grumbles about the amount of time it takes to install the seat. Your child's safety may not be paramount in his mind, but it should be in yours. Alternatively, call one of the private limo companies in the city that specifically state that they supply car seats on their website rather than taking your chances with hailing a cab. The slightly higher cost will be worth the peace of mind.