One year after New Jersey implemented one of the strictest car seat laws in the country, many motorists still are unsure what the regulation entails. One problem is that parents with growing children don’t know when the rules change based on the child’s age, height, and weight. Fines for improperly transporting a child range from $50 to $75, so it pays to know how the law affects you. Here are some important points to remember:
- Newborns to two year olds and children weighing less than 30 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing child car seat equipped with a five-point harness.
- Children under four years of age weighing less than 40 pounds must continue to ride in the rear-facing seat until they outgrow its specifications, or they can ride in a front-facing child car seat with a five-point harness.
- Children under the age of eight and less than 57 inches tall must ride in a front-facing car seat or in a booster seat until they outgrow the car seat’s height and weight specifications.
- If there is no rear seat in the vehicle, children may ride properly secured in the front seat in a car seat or booster seat. The exception is that an infant cannot ride up front in a rear-facing car seat unless the passenger side airbag has been disabled.
New Jersey state law is silent about when a child eight years of age or older may transition to the front passenger seat, but the Centers for Disease Control recommends they not do so until they are 13 years old. Children who are not restrained in child safety seats or booster seats must still wear seat belts.
When a child is not properly secured in a car and that car is involved in an auto accident, the child’s injuries can be greatly exacerbated. However, the law bars a defendant driver from alleging contributory negligence to reduce recovery for the child’s injuries.
Many parents initially have a hard time figuring out how to properly secure their child’s car seat. If you have questions, the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety has “seat checks” scheduled for every county in the state.
Seigel Law wants you and your children to be safe in your travels. If you have a serious accident, we are ready to help in Bergen County and throughout New Jersey. Contact us online or call 201.444.4000 today for a free consultation and case evaluation.