A Parent’s Guide to Car Seat Laws In NJ
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As a parent, one of the most important things you can do to protect your child while driving is to use a car seat.
In New Jersey, specific laws govern the use of car seats for children of different ages and sizes. Understanding these laws is crucial for keeping your child safe on the road.
In this post, the New Jersey car accident lawyers from Richard J. Hollawell and Associates provide a comprehensive guide to car seat laws in New Jersey.
Car Seat Requirements in New Jersey
New Jersey law requires all children under the age of eight who weigh less than 80 pounds and are shorter than 4’9″ to ride in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle.
Here’s a breakdown of the requirements for different age ranges:
- Infants and Toddlers (0-2 years old): Children under two or under 30 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing car seat equipped with a five-point harness in the vehicle’s back seat. It’s recommended that children remain in rear-facing car seats until they reach the highest weight or height the manufacturer allows.
- Toddlers and Preschoolers (2-4 years old): Children between two and four years old and weighing between 30 and 40 pounds must be secured in a forward-facing car seat equipped with a five-point harness in the vehicle’s back seat. Again, it’s recommended that children remain in forward-facing car seats until they reach the highest weight or height the manufacturer allows.
- School-Aged Children (4-8 years old): Children between four and eight years old and weighing 40 and 80 pounds must be secured in a booster seat in the vehicle’s back seat. The booster seat must be used with the lap and shoulder belts properly positioned across the child’s body. Once a child has outgrown their booster seat, they can follow the vehicle’s usual seat belt laws but must still ride in the back seat.
Exceptions to New Jersey Car Seat Laws
There are a few exceptions to New Jersey’s car seat laws. Children under the age of eight who are at least 57 inches tall are not required to use a booster seat. Additionally, if a vehicle does not have a back seat, the child can ride in the front seat, but only if the airbag is turned off and the child is secured in a car seat or booster seat appropriate for their age, weight, and height.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Laws in New Jersey
Violating New Jersey’s car seat laws can result in a fine of $50 for the first offense, $75 for the second offense, and $100 for each subsequent offense.
These fines do not include court costs.
Choosing the Right Car Seat
Choosing the right car seat for your child can be overwhelming. Here are some helpful things to consider:
- Size: Choose a car seat appropriate for your child’s age, weight, and height.
- Safety features: Look for a car seat with a five-point harness, which is the safest type of harness. Make sure the car seat meets federal safety standards.
- Ease of use: Choose a car seat that is easy to install and adjust. You should be able to tighten the harness straps snugly against your child’s body.
- Price: Car seats can range from less than $50 to over $500. While a higher price does not always mean a better car seat, choosing a seat that meets safety standards and has the features you need is important.
When to Replace Your Car Seat
Car seats have expiration dates, so it’s crucial to replace them as needed. Typically, car seats expire six years after their manufacturing date. Additionally, you should replace your car seat if it has been in a moderate or severe crash or has any visible damage or wear and tear.
Tips for Using a Car Seat Safely
In addition to following New Jersey’s car seat laws and choosing the right car seat, here are some tips for using a car seat safely:
- Keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible: Rear-facing car seats provide the best protection for young children. Keep your child in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest weight or height the manufacturer allows.
- Ensure the car seat is installed correctly: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when installing the car seat. If you’re unsure if the seat is installed correctly, you can have it inspected by a certified technician.
- Keep your child in the back seat: Children under the age of 13 should always ride in the vehicle’s back seat. That is the safest place for them in the event of a crash.
- Never use a car seat that has been recalled: If your car seat has been recalled, stop using it immediately and contact the manufacturer for a replacement.
- Don’t use a secondhand car seat: Car seats can be expensive, but it’s important to avoid using a secondhand car seat unless you know its entire history. Also, never use a car seat that has been in a crash or is missing parts.
What To Do When Your Child Is Injured in a Car Accident
Following New Jersey’s car seat laws and using a car seat correctly is crucial for protecting your child on the road. However, accidents do happen, and, unfortunately, the proper use of a car seat is not always enough to protect your child.
If you or your child were injured in a NJ car accident, The team at Richard J. Hollawell and Associates can help.
Please fill out our contact form or call a team member at 1-800-681-3550 for a free consultation.