New Jersey Child Passenger Safety Law Guide
Nothing is more important than the safety of your child. If there is one thing you do every day that endangers your child the most, it is your daily commute in your automobile. All it takes is a few moments of distraction of you or another driver for you to get into a serious accident. Protect your loved ones and avoid the penalties associated with breaking the law by following this guide to New Jersey child passenger safety laws.
The full list of requirements can be found here. This guide will serve as an overview of the requirements for your quick and convenient reference.
If the safety of your children isn’t important enough to you, maybe you are more of a selfish kind of person, at least be aware of the penalties you face if you break a child safety law. Here is what you have to do to meet New Jersey child passenger safety guidelines:
- If your child is younger than 8 years old and weigh less than 80 pounds they must be secured in a car seat in the backseat of your car. If your car has no backseat you can have a child under 8 years old and 80 pounds in the front passenger seat, but only if the child is secured in a car seat.
- If your child is younger than 8 years old, but weighs more than 80 pounds, your child is not legally required to be secured in a carseat, but they still must have their seat belt on.
- All children from 8 to 18 years old must wear a seat belt while the car is in motion
The Car seat Timeline
The first car seat you should get for your child is a rear facing car seat—this is the safest option of car seat, made for infants and the smallest of children. Keep your children in a rear facing carseat until they are 20 pounds and 1 year old.
After your child is over 20 pounds and 1 year old it is time to graduate to a front facing car seat. Keep the carseat in the back seat of your car. This will hold you over until your child is 40 pounds and 4 years old.
Once your child is 40 pounds and 4 years old it is time to use a booster seat. Remember to also use the seat belt when using a booster seat—the booster seat will last until your child is 80 pounds and 8 years old.
At this point no carseat is required, although it is recommended you continue to drive with your child in the backseat while they are still developing physically.
Seat Belt Fit Test
This test will check to see if your child is ready to shed his booster seat and ride with just a seat belt. First, make sure your child’s legs fit properly over the seat, with their knees bending past the edge. If your child’s legs are still short enough for the bend of their knee to come before the edge of the seat they still need to ride in a booster seat.
Buckle the belt. Make sure the lap belt fits over your child’s thighs, around where the pockets of his pants are. The shoulder belt should fit over the collarbone. The shoulder belt should not graze your child’s face or neck. Never fit the shoulder belt under your child’s arm or behind your child’s back, this will increase the chance of injury in the case of an accident.
Also make sure that your child is able to sit properly with his seat belt on. If your child cannot maintain proper posture and the seat belt connects with his face or neck it may be time to break out the booster seat again.
Automobile accidents are the number one cause of death for children over six months old. Car seats are the best to increase your child’s chances of survival in the event of a crash.
But even if you do have a carseat, you’re not quite out of the woods yet. Three out of four carseat users do not secure their children properly. Not securing your children properly minimizing the positive effects of the car seat, sometimes negating them altogether. Read all manuals and instructions that are supplied with your car seat.
Most modern car seats use the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system for easy carseat installation. If you familiarize yourself with the LATCH system and read all instruction you should have no problems installing your carseat effectively. Another tip is to make sure you install your first rear facing carseat a few weeks before your baby is planned to be born. This way there will be no rush and you can take the time needed for proper installation.