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New York Car Seat Laws

A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in New YorkCar Seat Laws as they pertain to the state of New York

  • New York law requires children to ride on rear-facing seats from birth until the age of 2 years.
  • Children 2-4 years who weigh 40 pounds or less are required to ride on federally approved forward-facing seats.
  • The law requires children 8 years and under who have outgrown forward-facing seats to be secured in booster seats.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children should remain in the back seat until age 13.

Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in New York

New York law requires children to ride on rear-facing seats from birth until the age of 2 years or until they exceed the car seat’s maximum weight and height limits. There are two main types of rear-facing seats, infant-only and convertible seats. Infant-only seats are normally used from birth until when the baby’s weight is at least 20 pounds, at which point the baby is transferred to convertible seats where he or she can stay for a longer period due to the seat’s higher weight limit (up to 40 pounds). Some children can safely remain rear-facing until age 4, however this depends on the rate at which they gain weight. Rear-facing seats should be installed in the rear of the car and should face the rear. This helps in protecting the head, neck, and spine of the baby in case of a crash, as the back of the seat absorbs most of the impact. The harness straps should also be fastened according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Forward-Facing Car Seat Laws in New York

According to the law, children 2-4 years who weigh 40 pounds or less are required to ride on federally approved forward-facing seats. Parents can either buy a forward-facing only seat or turn their convertible seats to face forward. A seat with a 5-point harness is recommended. The harness straps should be snug above the child’s collarbone. If fitted correctly, the straps will help to spread the crash forces across the more developed body parts (shoulders and hips) in the event of an accident. Forward-facing seats can be installed using lap-only seat belts or with lap-shoulder belts. Seats of this type should be installed in the rear of the car and should face the front of the car. Most forward-facing seats can support children of up to 65 pounds, so this means children can reach age 7 while still within the limits set by the manufacturer.

Booster Seat Regulations in New York

The law requires children 8 years and under who have outgrown forward-facing seats to be secured in booster seats. According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, children between 4-8 years, who weigh 40-80 pounds and are shorter than 4’9” should ride on booster seats. The main purpose of a booster seat is to raise a child so that they can properly fit in seat belts. For a safe and comfortable fit, the lap belt should lie flat across the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt should be snug across the chest area. Booster seats should be used with lap-shoulder belts. Do not use lap-only seat belts to secure booster seats. In situations where you don’t have headrests in your car, you can use high-back booster seats, which are designed to support a child’s neck and head. If you have headrests, you can opt for backless booster seats. Most seats can support children of up to 80 pounds, so ensure your child has surpassed the manufacturer’s top height and weight requirement. For a child to be ready for safety belts, he or she should be 4’9” or taller and be able to sit all the way back against the seat without slouching and with knees bent above the edge of the seat.

Requirements for children to use the front seat in New York

No law covers front seat regulations for children. The New York Department of Motor Vehicles says that the safest location for children is the back seat and that you should never put a rear-facing seat in the front seat if there is an active airbag. If you must ride with a child in the front seat, the department says the child’s car seat should be installed as far back as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children should remain in the back seat until age 13. This is because airbags in front seats can be lethal to kids when they inflate with great force. Also, state law requires all front-seat occupants to wear seat belts.

Car Seat Law on Children younger than 16 years in New York

The law requires all children in this age group who have outgrown booster seats to ride while wearing seat belts, regardless of whether they are riding in the front seat or back seat.

Law on leaving a child in a car in New York

The state is trying to make it illegal to leave children unattended inside cars, so for now, it is not illegal to do so. It is not recommended to leave your child unattended in a vehicle for any length of time.

Smoking in a car with a child in New York

It is illegal to smoke in a car with child passengers in New York.

Car Seat Law Exemptions in New York

Parents riding with children in commercial vehicles such as taxis and cars for hire are encouraged to bring their child’s car seats with them, which the drivers must allow them to install. However, children under age 7 are allowed to sit on an adult’s lap.

Law on Car Seat Replacement in New York

No law covers the replacement of car seats. Manufacturers usually include guidelines such as expiry dates, so be sure to check your manual. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says you should replace car seats after a moderate or severe accident.

More New York Laws

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