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355 North Avenue, Dunellen NJ 08812 / Phone: 732-968-3000
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New Car Seat Law

What Parents Need to Know about N.J.'s 
New Car Seat Law

Researchers say keeping babies and small children in rear-facing seats as long as possible drastically lowers their chance of dying in a car crash.

Under New Jersey's old law, every child under age 8 riding in a motor vehicle with seat belts must be in the back seat in either a car seat or a booster seat. (School buses are exempt.) The revised law adds additional regulations with specific age and weight limits. 

Among the new rules:

Birth to age 2: A child under age 2 and under 30 lbs. must be in a rear-facing car seat with a five-point harness. Toddlers who are tall or have long legs will be rear-facing with their feet are pressed against the back seat of the car. Once a child reaches either age 2 or 30 lbs., the car seat can be turned around to face forward. (Best Practice: If a child has not met the ht. and wt. limitations of their car seat, keep them rear-facing until they do. Research demonstrates that rear facing children do not suffer more leg injuries that forward-facing kids.)

Ages 2 to 4: Children must remain in either a rear-facing or a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness in the back seat of a vehicle at least until they are 4 years old or 40 lbs. Then, they can move to a booster seat. (Best Practice: If the child has not met the ht. and wt. limitations of their car seat, keep them in the harnesses until they do. A 5 point harness is the SAFEST WAY TO RIDE)

Ages 4 to 8: Children must remain in a booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle until they are at least 8 years old or 57 inches tall. Once they reach that age or height, they can use the regular adult seat belts. (Best Practice: Children should be moved to a seat belt only if the seat belt fits them correctly. The shoulder belt should come across the middle of the chest, not on the neck. The lap belt should ride low on the hips, not in front of the belly, and the child should be able to bend their legs over the edge of the seat. If even one of these is not met, the child should stay in their booster seat until they do).

Front seats: If a vehicle doesn't have a back seat (like a pick-up truck or a sports car), a child can ride in the front seat in a car seat or a booster seat. But the vehicle's passenger-side airbag must be disabled or shut off if a baby or toddler is using a rear-facing car seat strapped into the front seat of the vehicle. The force of air bags can injure small children if they deploy. (Best Practice: Children should remain in the back seat until they are at least 13.)

For more information about keeping your entire family safe in the car, visit www.safekids.org or call the Injury Prevention Program @ RWJ - 732.418.8026