The leading causes of death in children 14 and under is car accidents. From 2020 to 2021, there was an 8% rise in children 14 or under succumbing to car accident deaths in the U.S., up 1,184 from 1,101.
New Jersey has state laws governing the use of car seats for children, passed in an effort to improve the safety of children passengers in motor vehicles. Breaking these laws will end with traffic violations and fines, but are insignificant in comparison to the severe injuries that unrestrained children may sustain in an auto accident.
More information regarding these New Jersey car seat laws will be covered in the following article.
If you and your child were involved in a car accident and have questions about NJ car seat laws, please contact the offices of Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law for help. Our NJ car accident lawyers will be there for you.
All Child Passengers Are Required Under NJ Law to Use Seat Belts or Car Seats
When it comes to New Jersey car seat laws, the state holds guardians and parents accountable. State laws regarding car seats are intricate and impose fines on drivers who do not properly restrain children in their car.
All children under the age of eight who are shorter than 57 inches in height are required by NJ law to be buckled up in a car seat or booster seat. A fine of up to $75 may be incurred for each instance in which a child passenger is not buckled up in the designated seats. It may also result in points being imposed against your driver's license.
You are also required to have the correct car seat for your child, based on their age, weight, and height. Simply putting your child in any car seat will not do. The state updated its seat belt regulations in 2015, including particular guidelines for kids of varying ages and heights. Serious penalties may be incurred for breaking the law. Following the enactment of this law, there have been thousands of fines issued by New Jersey law enforcement officials.
New Jersey Car Seat Guidelines
State law details specific guidelines for the safest ways to travel with a child in a motor vehicle. As of September 1, 2015, when NJ's latest car seat laws went into effect, a child must be protected in the following ways:
- A car seat that is rear-facing and has a five-point harness. This is a requirement for any child under two years old and 30 pounds.
- A five-point harness car seat that faces forward is required for children under 4 and under 40 pounds. At this age, they are able to transition to a forward-facing car seat after reaching the max height/weight for a rear-facing car seat.
- A booster seat. Children can transition to a booster seat once they have outgrown their forward-facing car seat. The seat must raise the child to the proper position in order to utilize a seat belt. A child can transition to a regular seat belt when they are eight years old or 57 inches tall.
When transferring a kid from one system to another, parents are required to adhere to both New Jersey laws and follow the instructions provided by the car seat's manufacturer. If you are unclear about these requirements, free child safety seat checkpoints are available in New Jersey for parents who require help installing car seats. Unless the car is equipped without a rear seat, all children should ride in the back seat. The child may travel in the passenger seat in this scenario, but only if the airbag is turned off.
Fines For Breaking New Jersey's Car Seat Laws
If parents are found breaking car seat laws, they could be fined. These penalties could be in the $50–$75 range.
Furthermore, parents who argue that they followed the manufacturer's guidelines and did not place their child in the appropriate safety seat are not exempt from the law.
Common Mistakes Parents Make With Their Child's Car Seat
Car seats must be installed properly to provide the protection intended for the child. Below are some of the most common mistakes parents will make when using car seats for their children:
- Using an expired car seat. Parents should only use the seat for six years. After this amount of time, wear and tear can impact their effectiveness.
- Not buckling the child tightly. While your child should not be uncomfortable in their car seat, failing to secure the straps loose enough can be extremely dangerous. Pay extra attention to your child’s restraints in winter. Snowsuits and puffy jackets may allow the belts to be too loose.
- Adjusting the seat as your child grows. As a child gets bigger, their car seat will need to be adjusted for comfort and security. Make sure that the car seat arm straps fit securely.
- Allowing a child to sit in the front seat. While your child may beg to ride in the front seat, it can be dangerous in the event of a car accident. An airbag can kill a child who is riding in the front.
- Improper car seat installation. If you do not install a car seat correctly, this can be dangerous. If you are not sure whether your child’s car seat is installed within your vehicle correctly, get feedback from those with experience. The New Jersey State Police offer safety seat checks weekly throughout the state. Click here to locate the location nearest to you.
NJ Car Accident Lawyers At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law
Do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation if you or your child has been hurt in an auto accident. We can get you the compensation you deserve.
Call us today, our lawyers at Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law are available to assist you.