The state of New Jersey has some of the strictest car seat laws in the country, making it imperative for parents to understand the requirements and follow them precisely. Car seat laws are an essential aspect of ensuring children’s safety while they are in a vehicle. Parents must adhere to the laws set in place to prevent any potential accidents or injuries.
New Jersey Car Seat Laws 2023
Newborns to age 2: Rear-facing Car Seat Law in New Jersey
A child under the age of 2 years and 30 pounds shall be secured in a rear-facing seat equipped with a 5-point harness.
This law is designed to protect young children from serious injury in the event of a car crash. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that parents keep children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer.
Ages 2 to 4: Forward-facing Car Seat Law in New Jersey
A child under the age of 4 years and 40 pounds shall be secured as described in (a) until they reach the upper limits of the rear-facing seat, then in a forward-facing child restraint equipped with a 5-point harness.
After a child turns 2 or reaches the maximum weight and height limits of a rear-facing car seat, they can move to a forward-facing car seat. Children should also use a harness until they outgrow the weight or height limit of the car seat.
Ages 4 to 8: Booster Seat Laws in New Jersey
A child under the age of 8 and a height of 57 inches shall be secured as described in (a) or (b) until they reach the upper limits of the rear-facing or forward facing seat, then in a belt positioning booster seat.
The booster seat lifts the child up so that the car’s seat belt fits them properly. It’s important to note that a seat belt will not provide adequate protection for children who are too small to fit it properly.
Age 8 and above: Seat Belts Law in New Jersey
In New Jersey, the seat belt law is a primary offense. This means that law enforcement officers can pull you over just for not wearing a seat belt. The law requires all drivers and passengers in a car to wear a seat belt.
- All front seat occupants must wear seat belts.
- A child over 8 years of age or 57 inches in height must be properly secured by a seat belt.
- Children under the age of 8 or less than 57 inches tall must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the rear seat of the vehicle.
Front Seats Law in New Jersey
New Jersey’s law does not explicitly prohibit children from riding in the front seat, but it’s recommended that children under the age of 13 ride in the back seat. This is because airbags can cause serious injury to young children in the event of an accident. If a car does not have a back seat, a child under 13 may ride in the front seat as long as they are properly secured in an appropriate car seat or booster seat.
Taxi Child Seat Law in New Jersey
Taxis are exempt from the law that requires children to ride in a booster seat until they are at least 8 years old or 57 inches tall. This means that a child over the age of 8 who weighs more than 80 pounds can legally ride in a taxi with just a seat belt.
Leaving Child in Car Law in New Jersey
New Jersey law makes it illegal to leave a child under the age of 4 unattended in a motor vehicle for more than 30 minutes. This law is in place to prevent children from being left in a hot car, which can cause heatstroke and even death. If a child is left unattended and is injured or dies as a result, the individual responsible may face criminal charges.
The Fines and Exemptions
Violating the NJ car seat law can result in a fine of $50 for the first offense. However, fines can increase up to $75 for the second offense and $100 for subsequent violations. Furthermore, the driver can be charged with 4 points on their driver’s license for not properly securing a child in a car seat.
Exemptions to the law may be granted for medical reasons, but the exemption must be provided by a licensed physician. It’s important to note that the fines may increase for subsequent offenses, and that the ultimate goal of the law is to ensure the safety of children when riding in cars.
Enforcement of NJ Car Seat Law
Law enforcement officers in New Jersey focus on enforcing the seat belt and car seat laws to help protect their citizens. In addition to issuing fines for violating these laws, they also educate the public by sharing information and conducting car seat checks at local events.
These checks provide parents and caregivers with an opportunity to learn about proper car seat installation and ensure that they are using the right kind of car seat for their child’s size and age.
Car Seat Laws in Other States
- Ohio Car Seat Laws (2023)
- Understanding Texas Car Seat Laws
- Florida Car Seat Laws: A Comprehensive Guide
- California Car Seat Law: Everything You Need to Know
Child Passenger Safety in New Jersey
New Jersey’s child passenger safety law requires:
Children under 8 years of age who weigh less than 80 pounds to ride properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat in the rear seat of the vehicle. If there is no rear seat, the child may sit in the front seat, but s/he must be secured by a child safety seat or booster seat.
(Note: A rear-facing infant seat should never be placed in a front seat with a passenger-side airbag unless the vehicle is equipped with an air bag on/off switch. For more information about child safety seats and air bags consult Advisory on Airbags and Passenger Sensing Systems.)
Children under 8 years of age who weigh more than 80 pounds to ride properly secured in a seat belt. Passengers 8 to 18 years of age (regardless of weight) ride properly secured in a seat belt.
Other Tips For Keeping Kids Safe
While adhering to car seat laws is crucial, there are additional safety measures parents can take to ensure their children’s safety. Parents should always use seat belts, ensure children are not distracted while driving, and keep their cars clean. It is also essential to use car seats during short trips and to install them correctly, as accidents can happen anywhere.
Choosing the Right Car Seat
Selecting the right car seat for a child can feel overwhelming, but there are tips to make the process easier.
- Parents should choose a car seat based on the child’s age, weight, and height, as well as the type of vehicle they own.
- Infant car seats are suitable for newborns, while convertible car seats can be used from infancy to early childhood.
- All-in-one car seats provide an all-inclusive option. It is essential to select a seat that meets safety standards and is appropriate for the child’s growth stage.
Common Mistakes Parents Make
Despite well-intentioned efforts, many parents make common mistakes when installing their child’s car seat. These errors include not positioning the harness correctly, not using the right type of car seat, and neglecting to secure the seat in place tightly.
To avoid these mistakes, parents should carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions and seek help from professionals if necessary. Parents can also attend car seat inspection events to have their seat inspected by a professional.
When can my child sit in the front seat in New Jersey?
A child can sit in the front seat in New Jersey if they are 8 years old or older or 57 inches or taller.
Is it illegal to smoke in a car with a child in New Jersey?
Yes, it is illegal to smoke in a car with a child under the age of 17 in New Jersey.
Which car seat is right for your child in New Jersey?
The right car seat for your child in New Jersey depends on their age, weight, and height. The New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety recommends using the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines for car seat safety.
What is the weight requirement for a booster seat in New Jersey?
The weight requirement for a booster seat in New Jersey is typically between 30 and 100 pounds, depending on the specific booster seat.
What age does a kid not need a booster?
A child does not need a booster seat in New Jersey when they are over 8 years old or taller than 57 inches.
What are the car seat rules for Uber in New Jersey?
All passengers in an Uber in New Jersey must wear a seat belt. Children under the age of 8 or less than 57 inches tall must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the rear seat of the vehicle.
Can my 1 year old sit in a front facing car seat?
No, a 1 year old should be in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of the vehicle, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines.
Car seat laws are set to ensure that children’s safety is a priority while traveling in a vehicle. Parents must understand and follow these laws to avoid any potential risks. Adhering to the NJ car seat laws and additional safety measures will keep children safe on the road.