CHATHAM, NJ - Infants and toddlers will be required to ride in rear-facing car seats longer, according to a recently signed New Jersey law that will go into effect in September.
The new law requires babies and toddlers sit in rear-facing car seats until they reach the age of two years or 30 pounds. The law agrees with recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP). Previously, the requirement was one year.
Amanda Norek, Chatham mother of three children ages 3, almost 2 and four months, says it is going to take some adjustment.
"I feel like now that they've been facing forward, they're at the age where they like to look around, so it will take some time to get used to it," Norek said. "Especially now when they look around for trucks on the road. They'll know what they're missing, so turning them to backwards is going to be a change."
Once they are turned around, children must remain in 5-point harness car seats until they are 4-years-old or weigh 40 pounds. The new law also says that children must remain in booster seats until they reach the age of 8 or 57 inches in height.
Fines for violation of the law will range from $50 to $75.
"I've read online about how their necks are not developed at a young age, so if you're in an accident it's safer to have them facing the rear," Norek said. "I don't think a lot of people know about the new law."
Lt. Brian Gibbons of the Chatham Borough Police Department has been reading up on the new law himself.
"This makes some pretty significant adjustments to the law," Gibbons said. "It's going to make it safer for infants and children. It's clear from any information you read on the subject that rear-facing seats protect the neck and spinal chord. The longer children can sit in rear-facing seats, the safer they'll be."
The Chatham Borough Police plan to launch an awareness campaign about the new law this month.
"We'll work with the school district to make sure that parents are aware of the new law," Gibbons said.