On September 1, 2015, New Jersey enacted the most stringent car seat laws in the country, for children ages 13 and under.
The laws state that babies must remain in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or when they reach a weight of 30 pounds. Toddlers can then be placed in forward-facing seats with five-point harnesses after age 4, and until they reach a weight of 40 pounds. Older children must be restrained by a booster seat until age 8, or until they reach a height of 57 inches. New Jersey is now the only state in compliance with car seat guidelines set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Parents who do not comply with the new laws can expect to be fined anywhere from $50 to $75.
What Can I Do to Make Sure My Children Are Safe?
The AAP recommends that all children age 13 and under should ride in the back seat of a vehicle. Parents should be aware of their state’s car seat laws and follow them. Many states now require infants to ride in rear-facing car seats until age 1, but the New Jersey law requires riding in rear-facing seats until age 2.
Car seats can be confusing, especially when it comes to securing them properly. Many newer car models have built-in car seat anchors that keep seats in their proper place, but sometimes parents find securing the seats to be difficult.
Parents are advised to research the type of car seats needed for their children, and to read the instructions that come with them. A child will likely need several versions of a car or booster seat before he or she is old enough to ride in a car secured only by a seat belt.
Talk to friends and family members about car safety and look for information online from trusted sources that will help you choose the proper seat to keep your child safe. Many communities are now holding safety events that will help educate you and your children on how to take all the necessary precautions when driving.
Car Accidents Are a Leading Cause of Death of Children
According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control (CDC), more than 148,000 children under age 12 were injured in car accidents in 2011. Another 650 died of their injuries. More data show that over half a million children under age 12 ride in cars without being properly secured in an age-appropriate car seat at least some of the time, and of the children who died in 2011 crashes, 33 percent of them were not in car seats. Some of those deaths likely could have been prevented.
The use of car seats reduces the risk of death by 71 percent and booster seats for children ages 4-8 reduce the risk of serious injury by 45 percent, when combined with the use of seat belts.
The attorneys at Morgan & Morgan have extensive experience advocating for clients who have suffered injuries in car accidents. We can help you determine whether or not you have grounds to seek compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, and other damages caused by injuries to you or your children.