SPARTA, NJ - New Jersey's new car seat law for children that goes into effect Tuesday, Sept. 1, will reduce the leading cause of death and injury for children 14 and younger, which is car accidents, according to the American Automobile Association.
New Jersey's new standards are the first of its kind to be signed into law in the nation.
“These new regulations will ensure that New Jersey remains a leader in child passenger safety,” Cathleen Lewis, director of public affairs and government relations for AAA Northeast in New Jersey, said. “The new law, which requires parents to adhere to American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for use of child safety seats, is the easiest way to keep New Jersey’s children safe on the road.”
Under the new law:
- Children under age 2 AND weighing less than 30 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat that is equipped with a five-point harness.
- Children ages 2 – 4 and weighing up to 40 pounds must be secured in a child-safety seat equipped with a five-point harness, either rear-facing (up to the height and weight limits of the seat) or forward-facing.
- Children ages 4 – 8 and less than 57” tall (4’9”) must be secured in a forward-facing seat equipped with a five-point harness (up to the height and weight limits of the seat) or in a booster seat.
- Children ages 8 – 17 must use the vehicles seat belt. The safest place for children under 13 is the back seat.
A Sparta mother of three said, “They need to focus on the children’s height, not just weight. This is also going to cost more money. My son’s car seat is only allowed to face backward up to 22 pounds.”
Once they are turned to face forward, 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.
Sparta Township Police Department spokesman Dennis Proctor said in a previous interview, “The Police Department is one hundred percent in agreement with the changes that are coming in September. According to all the best research available, having the child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible dramatically lowers the chance of injury or death in a serious motor vehicle accident.”
Fines for violation of the law will range from $50 to $75.
Procter said, “The Sparta officers that have done car seat inspections for the public have stated how much the car seat technology has changed just in the past few years and for the better. This newer technology, along with the new regulations about to take effect, can only be a positive for young children in automobiles and if it saves one child's life that otherwise would have been lost, it is legislation the Department is glad to see in effect.”