New Jersey’s New Car Seat Law – Toughest in the Nation?

Recently, the state of New Jersey has been all over the news for passing a tough, new car seat law and here is a brief overview of what you need to know.

Summary

As per the State of New Jersey’s Department of Law & Public Safety, any child under the age of 8 years old and a height of 57 inches shall be secured as follows in the rear seat of a motor vehicle:

  1. A child under the age of 2 years and 30 pounds shall be secured in a rear-facing seat equipped with a 5-point harness.
  2. A child under the age of 4 years and 40 pounds shall be secured as described in (a) until they reach the upper limits of the rear-facing seat, then in a forward-facing child restraint equipped with a 5-point harness.
  3. A child under the age of 8 and a height of 57 inches shall be secured as described in (a) or (b) until they reach the upper limits of the rear-facing or forward facing seat, then in a belt positioning booster seat.
  4. A child over 8 years of age or 57 inches in height must be properly secured by a seat belt.

If there are no rear seats, the child shall be secured as described above in the front seat except that no child shall be secured in a rear-facing seat in the front seat of any vehicle that is equipped with an active passenger-side airbag. The aforementioned is acceptable if the airbag is de-activated. For the full text you can please see: Legislation – P.L. 2015, c.50; available at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/PL15/50_.PDF

Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to the New Law

My child is 7 years old and is 58 inches tall. Is he required to ride in a booster seat?

  • Although he is only 7 years old, he is over 57 inches tall and requires only a properly fitted seat belt.

 

My daughter is 8 years old but only weighs 76 pounds. Does she need a booster seat?

  • Once a child is 8 years of age, s/he no longer needs to ride in a booster seat, but s/he must be secured in a properly adjusted seat belt.

*Note: While the children described above are exempt from the child restraint law, the seat belt may not fit them properly. The lap belt should lay across the child’s upper thigh (the pant’s pocket area) and across the chest and collar bone (so that it’s not cutting into the neck).

 

How can I determine if my child will be properly protected by the vehicle’s seat belt?

  • Use the seat belt fit test on all children under 13 years of age to be sure they are big enough to safely use the adult seat belt without a booster seat.
  • Have the child sit all the way back on the vehicle seat. Check to see if the knees bend naturally at the seat edge. If they do, continue the test. If they do not – the child should continue to ride in a booster seat.
  • Buckle the lap and shoulder belt. Be sure the lap belt lies across the upper legs (the pant’s pocket area). If it lays across the upper thighs, move on to the next step. If it does not, the child should continue to ride in a booster seat.
  • Be sure the shoulder belt lies on the shoulder or collarbone (and is not cutting into the neck). If it lies on the shoulder, move to the next step. If it is on the face or neck, the child should continue to ride in a booster seat. DO NOT place the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the child’s back!
  • Be sure that your child can maintain the correct seating position for as long as you are in the car. If your child begins to slouch or shift position so the safety belt contacts the face, neck, or abdomen, the child should continue to ride a booster seat until all the steps can be met.

 

The above information is from the State of New Jersey’s Department of Law & Public Safety website: http://www.nj.gov/lps/hts/childseats/childseats_newlaw.html