New Jersey Car Seat Laws
December 18, 2018
Most drivers do not know when a child should be in a rear-facing car seat or a front-facing car seat, or in a five point-harness compared to a booster seat. Although it may seem to make sense at first that your child should be in a car seat to be safer during the car ride, the applicable laws may be more complex than you originally thought.
Drivers should keep in mind that when the new car seat laws were passed in New Jersey in 2015, police issued 6,257 tickets to drivers as a result of a child in the car who was not buckled up or not buckled up properly, according to the new law. Fines pursuant to the car seat laws range from $50 to $75. The New Jersey laws may be different than what the car seat manufacturer recommends, so if the seat is not considered safe under the manufacturer’s rules in the way that the New Jersey law mandates, then you may need to purchase a different car seat.
Age Makes a Difference
Newborns under the age of two and under 30 pounds must be rear-facing in a five-point harness. Some states permit drivers to turn the child’s seat around at age one, but as of 2015, New Jersey requires that children under age two must remain rear-facing. Some parents are concerned that their child’s legs are too cramped in the rear-facing seat if they have long legs. Medical information shows that children who remain rear-facing will not have adverse effects on their legs. Data shows that there is a greater danger if the child suffers a head or spinal injury in an accident than any danger to the child’s legs during the first two years.
Children ages two to four and up to 40 pounds must remain either rear-facing or forward facing in a five-point harness in the back of the vehicle. It is only until they are over age four and over 40 pounds that children can move into a booster seat.
Children under age eight and 57 inches tall should stay in a car seat until the manufacturer says the child is too big. At that point, the child can move into a booster seat using the adult seat belt. It is only after the child turns eight or over 57 inches tall that they can move into an adult seat belt without a booster seat.
Although New Jersey law does not specify when children can move into the front seat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children sit in the back seat until age 13.
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