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Safety First: Know New Jersey’s Updated Child Passenger Laws

Motor vehicle accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for children over six months in New Jersey, according to the NJ Department of Law & Public Safety. To reduce these catastrophic injuries, new laws governing child safety restraints in cars operated in New Jersey went into effect on Sept. 1.

State legislators have enhanced child passenger safety laws in an effort to better protect young ones traveling in cars throughout the Garden State. As of Sept. 1, 2015, whether you are a resident of New Jersey or visiting from out of state, failure to abide by these rules of the road can earn you a traffic violation. Prior to Sept. 1, you may have only gotten a warning from a police officer during a traffic stop with regard to child safety seat laws.

Now, if you do not follow the guidelines listed below, you may be facing a traffic ticket and a fine of up to $75 throughout the state of New Jersey.

Perhaps more importantly, failing to properly secure your young child in a moving motor vehicle can result in disastrous injuries, even wrongful death in the event of a car accident.

Updated Guidelines for Young Auto Passenger Restraints

  • If your child is under age two and weighs less than 30 pounds, you must have a rear-facing seat with a five-point harness secured in the rear seat of the vehicle. Most people think the rear-facing seat option is for infants. This is no longer true. Even though your child may act like a big girl or boy at two years old, he or she still must sit in a rear facing seat.
  • As your child ages, it’s important to be mindful of the height and weight standards set forth by the manufacturer of your car seat. Until your child outgrows those standards, they must remain in the rear-facing seat with a five point harness. This means that if your child is under four years old and weighs less than 40 pounds, they still have to sit backwards in the back seat.

    When the child outgrows the manufacturer’s standards for height and weight maximums, they can sit with a five-point harness in a front facing seat in a properly-secured car seat in the rear seat of the vehicle.

    >Until your child is eight years old and taller than 57 inches, they must be secured in a child seat with a five-point harness. The alternative is a booster seat equipped with belt-positioning to properly secure the child in the seat.
  • Once your child reaches age eight or is taller than 57 inches tall, they can sit in a regular adult seat in the car with a seat belt secured around them.

You can transport your child in a motor vehicle without a back seat as long as your front passenger seat does not have an activated airbag. You must deactivate the passenger side airbag in a pickup truck, two-seater sports car or any other car that requires you to drive with your child in the front seat.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, New Jersey’s prior guidelines were outdated and potentially dangerous. Before Sept. 1, the law permitted children to face forward after they reached age one.

If your child has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, whether a car, truck or motorcycle crash, in New Jersey, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Team Law will fight for maximum compensation for your family. Call us today for a free consultation about your accident.

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