New York Adopts Strict New Car Seat Law

New York has put a new law in effect that requires children use rear-facing car seats until the age of two. This brings New York in line with other state laws like California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey that have this requirement. The law was passed back in 2017 but just took effect on Nov 1, 2019.

Previously there was no law in the state requiring use of rear facing car seats at any age. Although safety technology has improved, traffic accidents are still a leading cause of death among young children in the USA. Nearly 35% of children who die in car accidents are not wearing seat belts.

Extensive crash test data shows children are better protected when they are rear-facing. Young children especially are vulnerable to car accidents when forward facing because their head and necks absorb most of the pressure and can snap forward. A rear facing car seat protects the child in an accident by pressuring them deeper into the car seat and cradling them. The NY bill memo notes the risk of injury is more than 5x greater for 12-23 month old children who use a forward facing car seat instead of a rear facing car seat.

Children who grow fast and exceed the car seat weight and height requirements set by manufacturers are exempt from the rear facing seat law and should place children in a forward facing car seat. Parents concerned about the installation of their car seats should seek out a local expert on the state motor vehicle safety page.

The law also impacts older kids with new requirements. It requires children under the age of 16 to wear seat belts. Children ages 4 to 7 who weigh more than 40 pounds may use a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt. Children under the age of four who weigh more than 40 pounds also can use a booster seat with lap and shoulder belt. New York state law requires all passengers in the front seat to wear seat belts regardless of age. Taxi cabs are not exempt from the law although txi or Uber drivers are not responsible for passengers that do no comply.

The penalty in NY for a seat belt violation is a $50 fine. However, if the violation is for an unbuckled minor then the driver receives three driver points and the maximum fine of $100. Of course the worst punishment for the crime is putting your child at risk of injury so please drive safely and always buckle up.

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