With car accidents being the number one cause of death for children, making sure that your child is safely belted in should be a top priority. Car seats are necessary, even when there is not a crash to keep children properly restrained in the event of a sudden stop or jerk of the vehicle. Statistics from the American Automobile Association indicate that a booster seat can reduce nonfatal injuries by close to 50% for children aged 4-8. It is important to remember that if you are in a crash, you should replace all child car seats following the accident.
NJ actually has car seat inspection events which are hosted throughout the year for parents. At these events, crucial factors for determining whether a car seat is ready to be used are; the right seat, the direction, the location in the car, how the child is harnessed, and the actual installation. A car seat is not something that a child should grow into. As a parent, you should buy a seat that fits your child at their current size and this may require purchasing several seats throughout their development.
New Jersey also has Child Passenger Restraint Law (Title 39:3-76.2) which requires
- 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:
A. 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.
B. 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.
C. 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.
D. 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.
Motorists who fail to comply with any of the components of this law can be issued a summons by police if they are pulled over, but more importantly you are putting your child at risk.
The Division of Highway Traffic Safety recommends that children under the age of 4 should be kept in the rear-facing position for as long as possible. Only once the child outgrows the rear facing seat are they ready for a forward facing one. Adults should wear their seatbelts too. Not only will seatbelts keep you safe, it can set an example for your child in the vehicle. Another important tip is for pregnant woman. They should wear their seatbelt in a position that protects their unborn child. Typically, this will involve wearing the lap belt below the belly and across the hips along with the shoulder belt in place.
Choosing the “right” seat for your child has a lot to do with personal preference. Most importantly, however, it should be the proper size and should be used every single time your child rides in the car. If you or your child has been injured in a car accident, call 908-353-5850 to speak with an attorney about your rights!