A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in New Jersey
- The law requires children under age 2 who weigh less than 30 pounds to be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat.
- The law requires children younger than 4 years who weigh less than 40 pounds and have outgrown rear-facing seats to be secured in forward-facing seats.
- By law, children who are under 8 years of age and are shorter than 57 inches and have outgrown forward-facing seats are required to ride on booster seats.
- Children should ride in the back seat until they are 13 years old.
- A child passenger restraint device can only be secured in the front seat when all airbags are disabled or turned off.
Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in New Jersey
New Jersey law requires children under age 2 who weigh less than 30 pounds to be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat that is equipped with a 5-point harness. This means children who are under 2 years but have long legs which press against the back of the seat must remain rear-facing until they exceed all the requirements set by the law. To keep your little one comfortable, you can start by using an infant-only seat which is perfect for newborns, and then switch to a convertible seat as your child grows bigger. Convertibles allow you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period due to their higher weight limit (up to 40 pounds). Ensure your child is secured with the harness straps according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The seat should be firmly installed in the back seat such that there is no movement of more than 1-inch.
Forward Facing Car Seat Laws in New Jersey
The law requires children younger than 4 years who weigh less than 40 pounds to be secured in a rear-facing seat until they exceed the maximum height and weight requirements set by the manufacturer, after which they can transition to a forward-facing seat equipped with a 5-point harness and installed in the rear of the car. If you are using a convertible seat, you can turn the seat to face forward once the child has met the criteria for forward-facing seats. Ensure your child is safely secured with the harness straps. The straps should be snug above your child’s collarbone in such a way that no extra strap material can be pinched. While the law requires a minimum of 40 pounds for forward-facing seats, some seats support up to 65 pounds, this means kids can safely remain forward-facing until the age of 7 years.
Booster Seat Regulations in New Jersey
By law, children who are under 8 years of age and are shorter than 57 inches are required to ride on forward-facing seats equipped with a harness until they outgrow the car seat manufacturer’s height and weight guidelines, after which they can transition to booster seats secured in the rear of the car. You can use lap-shoulder belts or a latch system with booster seats. Lap-only belts are not recommended. A belt-positioning booster seat raises a child so that regular car seat belts can fit perfectly over the child’s body. A proper fit means the lap portion of the belt lies snug across the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt lies flat across the middle of the chest. Also, you should buy a high-back booster to support your child’s neck and head if your back seats do not have headrests. With booster seats supporting weights of up to 80 pounds, some children may surpass age 8 while still within the seat’s limits. However, most experts say that height holds more weight when it comes to transitioning children. This is because safety belts are designed for anyone 57 inches or taller, so shorter children may not fit in seat belts. Also, a child who is ready for seat belts should be able to sit all the way back against the seat without slouching, and with knees bent at the edge of the seat.
Requirements for children to use the front seat in New Jersey
Since the law requires child passenger restraint devices to be installed in the rear seat, this means children 8 years or older or those 57 inches or taller are allowed to sit in the front seat since they are old enough to wear seat belts. However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, children should ride in the back seat until they are 13 years old. This is because front-passenger side airbags are designed to deploy with a great amount of force, which can be dangerous to children.
Car Seat Law regarding Cars without rear seats in New Jersey
The New Jersey car seat law says that if a car has no rear seats, a child passenger restraint device can only be secured in the front seat when all airbags are disabled or turned off.
Law on leaving a child in a car in New Jersey
There is no specific law regarding leaving children unattended inside cars. However, a new Jersey court of appeals judge ruled that leaving a child unsupervised inside a vehicle is negligence or child abuse, so this means you can be convicted depending on the situation. It is recommended to never leave a child unattended in a vehicle for any length of time.
Law on Smoking in a car with a child in New Jersey
It is illegal to smoke inside a car with child passengers.
Law on Car Seat Replacement in New Jersey
The state requires parents to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to replacing seats after an accident.
Car Seat Law Exemptions in New Jersey
Commercial vehicles such as taxis, limousines, and cars for hire are not exempted and are required to fully comply with the state’s car seat laws. School buses are exempted but still required to install lap-shoulder belts in the seats.