Attention parents: New car seat law starts Tuesday
New Jersey parents will need to change the way they buckle their young children up in the car.
Set to take effect on Sept. 1, New Jersey's new Child Passenger Safety Law aims to keep kids safer in the car by requiring parents or guardians to adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for use of child safety seats.
The new rules include:
- Children under age 2 and weighing less than 30 pounds: Must be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat that is equipped with a five-point harness;
- Children ages 2 – 4 and weighing up to 40 pounds: Must be secured in a child-safety seat equipped with a five-point harness, either rear-facing (up to the height and weight limits of the seat) or forward-facing;
- Children ages 4 – 8 and less than 57” tall: Must be secured in a forward-facing seat equipped with a five-point harness (up to the height and weight limits of the seat) or in a booster seat;
- Children ages 8 – 17: Must use the vehicles seat belt. The safest place for children under 13 is the back seat.
So why are the changes being made?
"It's been determined that rear-facing is the safest mode of transportation, particularly for a child in their development stage," said Ed O'Connor, regional supervisor for the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety." The intent of it is that people start realizing that rear-facing is the safest mode and to keep the child in that rear-facing position for as long as that piece of equipment allows."
O'Connor pointed out historically parents have been eager to move kids to a forward- facing position so they can see their face and make sure they're okay, but this change is based on years of research and what is safest for the child.
He added the five-point harness is important for young children because of the improper fit of the adult lap and shoulder belt.
"They just don't fit the adult lap and shoulder belt properly yet at that time, or even in a booster seat in many cases," O'Connor said.
In addition to the new rules, fines will also increase. Fees will range from $50 to $75, up from a range of $10 to $25.