Infant Car Seat Laws in New York are Changing – Parents, Take Note!
Child safety never takes a back seat! Effective November 1, 2019, New York state law will require children under the age of two to use rear-facing car seats as a safety measure. The law was signed two years ago, giving families plenty of time to plan purchasing decisions accordingly. The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) reports that the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13 is motor vehicle accidents. Previously there were no age requirements for using rear-facing car seats in New York. Non-compliance with this law could result in a small fine. States like California, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania already have similar laws in place. Note, it is against the law in most states to transport a child in the car without the proper car seat.
The only exception to this law is if children under two years old exceed the height and weight requirements of the rear-facing car seat. In this case, a convertible seat that is installed rear facing is needed. Rear-facing car seats are proven to shield a child’s head and neck from the impact of a crash. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says, “when a child rides rear-facing, the head, neck, and spine are all supported by the hard shell of the car safety seat, allowing the car seat to absorb most of the crash forces, and protecting the most vulnerable parts of the body. When children ride forward-facing, their bodies are restrained by the harness straps, but their heads – which for toddlers are disproportionately large and heavy – are thrown forward, possibly resulting in spine and head injuries.”
Child car seat recommendations from the AAP:
- Children up to 2 years: A rear-facing car seat is required until children reach the highest weight and height allowed for the seat.
- Children 2 years and up: A front-facing car seat is required with a harness until they reach the height and weight limits for that seat (usually up to 65lbs.).
- After a child has outgrown the height and weight limits of front-facing car seats, it is recommended that they use a booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually 8 to 12 years of age).
- Children under 13 years: The safest place in a vehicle for children 13 years and under is in the back seat.
Lawmakers and safety officials urge parents and caretakers to learn the proper way to install a rear-facing car seat. The American Society for the Positive Care of Children (ASPCC) says, nearly half of all car seats are used or installed incorrectly, which puts children in danger of injury or death. The GTSC hosts many child safety seat inspection events throughout New York state. These events host trained technicians who can inspect your car seat setup and assist you in making adjustments if needed. New York state has a list by county of all Child Safety Seat Inspection Stations. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) can help you find the nearest station to you, no matter where you’re located in the United States.
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