New York State's Child And Infant Restraint law

by Joshua on December 02, 2014

New York State’s Child Restraint law mandates that all children under the age of eight must be restrained in an appropriate restraint system while riding a motor vehicle.

Basic Regulations

The law requires restraining children younger than four-years-old with an approved car seat when in a vehicle. However, if a child younger than four that weighs more than forty lbs, then the child could possibly switch to a booster seat instead. When restraining children between the ages of four and seven, an appropriate restraint system is dependent on the child’s size and weight as well as the manufacturer’s recommendations for appropriate restraints. This may include a child safety seat , harness/vest, or booster seat.

Different Types of Car Seats

The appropriate type of car seat depends on the weight and height of the child. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use it to ensure the child’s safety.

There are four restraint types, each appropriate for a certain age, weight, or height. A rear-facing car seat is the best option for young children between the ages of birth and two years. This type of seat moves with your child during a crash to reduce stress on the child’s neck and spinal cord.

The rear facing car seat may still be appropriate for children over the age of 2 years until they reach the height and weight requirement for a forward facing car seat as recommended by the manufacturer. Generally, a forward facing car seat is appropriate for children between the ages of 2 and 3 years. This type of seat reduces the child’s forward movement during a crash.

When a child outgrows the forward facing car seat, a booster seat is the next appropriate restraining system. This is usually reached between the ages of 4 and 7. A booster seat positions the seat belt to fit over the stronger parts of the child’s body.

There are two types of booster seats including backless or low-back and high-back seats. Backless or low-back booster seats are best for vehicles with high seat back. Your child’s headwill be fully supported from the head restraint or the vehicle seat back. The High-back booster seats can be used for vehicles with low seat back, no seat back, or no head restraint to support the child’s head and neck.

Children should continue to use booster seats until they are big enough to fit in a regular car seat with an adult seat belt. Usually, children reach this point between 8 and 12 years of age. A seat belt restrains a child in a crash without any extra support. When seating a child with a seat belt, the belt should not rest on the child’s neck or stomach area.

A child should transitions from a booster seat to an adult seat belt once an adult seat belt securely fits them efficiently. This is reached when the child becomes 4’9" or taller. This usually corresponds to 8 years of age. An adult seat belt fits properly if the belt for the lap fits over the upper part of their thighs, not touching the stomach, and the shoulder belt will lay across their chest and shoulder, not touching the neck or face. The child should be able to sit upright upon the vehicle seat with knees bent within the edge of the seat without slouching. The child should be able to sit like this comfortably for the entire car ride.

Car Seat Recommendations for Children

  • Choose a car seat appropriate for the child’s age, weight, and height. Be sure the seat fits in your vehicle and use it every time.
  • Always refer to the instructions from the manufacturer for guidance on proper installation and use. Make note of the restraint system’s height and weight limitations.
  • Keep the child in the car seat for as long as possible, until they exceed the height or weight requirements.
  • Until the child is 12 years old, only allow them to sit in the back seat.

Backs Seats vs. Front Seats

Although New York law does not require children to sit in the back seats, researchers estimate a reduced chance of injury and death by 30% by properly seating a child in the back seat instead of the front seat. Children should sit in the back seats until they are 12 years old.

  1. Public Transportation

This law also does not apply to taxis, buses, and other forms of public transportation. However, while riding a school bus, all children under the age of four must be restrained by a federally approved car seat.

  1. Recreational Vehicles

Children under the age of four must be restrained in a car seat. Recreational vehicles include campers or mobile homes.

Fines for Unrestrained Child Passengers

Drivers are responsible for any unrestrained child passengers and may be fined between $25 and $100. They will also receive 3 points on their driving record.

  1. Unsafe Car Seats

A child’s car seat may not be safe if it has been in a crash, it has missing parts, it has no labels it is on a recall list, it is over 6 years old, or it is not used properly.

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