Nothing is more important to a parent than the safety of a child. Every parent wants their children to be safe while riding in an automobile, especially in the event of a crash. While parents can’t always prevent car accidents, they can help prevent child injuries by knowing the child seat safety laws. Meanwhile, it’s not just your concerns about protecting your children. You can also subject yourself to heavy fines if you fail to comply with the law.
Without question, placing child passengers in the right safety seat and in the proper way can decrease the risk of child injury and death in the event of an auto accident. Do you know the laws in New Jersey regarding child restraint seats? What about positioning them in a car?
New Jersey’s Child Passenger Laws
Did you know that in the United States one of the biggest causes of death among children are automobile accidents? According to the CDC, in 2016 there were more than 700 children age 12 and under who died in an automobile crash.
New Jersey passed new laws in 2015 to protect and enhance the safety of children when riding in automobiles. N.J.S.A. 39:3-76.2a describes what parents, guardians, and caretakers should know about child passenger laws.
For starters, small children who are 57 inches tall or shorter and under age 8 need to be restrained in the back seat of a car as follows:
- Children up to 2 years old and less than 30 pounds need to be restrained in a rear-facing car seat. New Jersey is one of 8 states to have laws stipulating this requirement.
- Children up to 4 years old and less than 40 pounds must be in a rear-facing seat, but when the child outgrows the top height of the seat a forward-facing restraint can be used.
- Children under age of 8 and 57 inches must be in a rear-facing seat, but when the child outgrows the top height of the seat you can use a booster seat with belt positioning.
- Children age 8 or are at least 57 inches tall can be secured by a seat belt.
If you drive a sports car, truck, or other vehicle with no back seats, a child can ride in the front seat in a car seat or a booster seat as described above. But you cannot secure your child in a rear-facing seat in the front seat if the care is equipped with an active passenger-side airbag.
If you get pulled over and are caught violating the car seat law, the fines range from $50 to $75. In the year after New Jersey enacted its new car seat rules in 2015, police handed out 6,257 tickets related to children under age 8 who were either unbuckled or in the wrong car seat or booster seat, according to New Jersey data.