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NEW NY Car Seat Law: What Parents Need To Know

New York parents are now legally required to leave their children in rear-facing car seats until at least two-years-old. According to news reports, the new statewide child safety seat law that went into effect on November 1, 2019, aims to reduce the number of child road fatalities by enforcing stricter regulations. This law is the first in New York requiring a specific position for car seats when previous laws only required children under the age of four to be secured in a certified safety seat.  

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 15, and most of them occur when safety restraints are used incorrectly. Here are the details New York parents should know about the new car seat law to keep their children safe in an accident.  

The Details  

According to the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, the new rear-facing car seat law states that all children under the age of two must be secured in an appropriate rear-facing restraint whenever riding in a vehicle. This includes babies and toddlers riding on school buses.  

There are three types of car seats that can be used in rear-facing positions. The differences between the products, as highlighted by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.), include: 

  • Infant Seats: Infant seats are only used for newborns and small babies. These seats are portable and connect into a separate base installed in the car. Babies typically will grow out of these seats by 9 months.  
  • Convertible Seats- Convertible seats can be used for newborns but will last longer since they can be converted to a forward-facing position. These seats are installed into the vehicle with a harness and tether.  
  • All-In-One Seats: These types of car seats all children to face backward and forward. They also have the capability to turn into a booster seat for older children.  

Current NYS driving laws state that motorists can receive up to a $100 fine and three violation points on their license upon conviction for violating a car seat law. However, the consequences of not securing a child properly in a rear-facing car seat can prove to be far worse. 

The Purpose 

The N.H.T.S.A. reports 59 percent of car seats are being used incorrectly. Placing children in forward-facing seats before they are ready is one example.  

Some of the reasons why parents make the choice to turn their children around include:  

  • Trying to make the child more ‘comfortable’.  
  • Believing their child is too large to be rear-facing. 
  • Believing their child is too old to be rear-facing 
  • To be able to hand things to a child from the driver’s seat easily.  
  • To reduce conflict and fighting with children who don’t like to sit backward.  
  • Lack of awareness regarding the importance of rear-facing seats and vehicle safety. 

Experts continue to encourage parents that children are safer in rear-facing seats until at least two-years-old, if not longer. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (A.A.P.) removed the age limit from their safety recommendations for how long children should remain rear-facing in a vehicle. In a press release on August 30, 2018, the chair of the A.A.P. Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, Benjamin Hoffman, explained that “car seat manufacturers have created seats that allow children to remain rear-facing until they weigh 40 pounds or more, which means most children can remain rear-facing past their second birthday.” 

When a car gets into an accident, everything within the vehicle continues to move at the same speed the car was going before it crashed. Children who are facing forward may be restrained, but their heads are not well protected and can be dangerously forced forward in an accident. Rear-facing seats better protect the head, neck, and spine of a child in a crash, reducing the severity of injuries when they are properly secured.  

What Parents Can Do 

For some parents, turning their child around will be a simple switch. Others who are struggling with the transition can find plenty of guidance on rear-facing car seats through the N.H.T.S.A., including topics such as:  

  • Finding the right seat.  
  • Learning about the different car seat types.  
  • How to compare car seats.  
  • How to properly install car seats.  
  • Where to get car seats inspected.  

Don’t take a chance with your child’s life. For more information on how to choose the right car seat, check out this informational video.  

Sources 

“Doctor: New rear-facing car seat law could save lives.” News 12 Long Island (Retrieved November 3, 2019) http://longisland.news12.com/story/41259156/nys-new-car-seat-law-in-effect-today 

“Child Passenger Safety (CPS) in New York State.” Governors Traffic Safety Committee. (Retrieved November 3, 2019) http://www.safeny.ny.gov/sesa-ndx.htm 

“Car Seats and Booster Seats.” National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. (Retrieved November 3, 2019) https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats 

“Safety restraints.” New York Department of Motor Vehicles. (Retrieved November 3, 2019) https://dmv.ny.gov/more-info/safety-restraints 

“AAP Updates Recommendations on Car Seats for Children.” American Academy of Pediatrics. (Retrieved November 3, 2019) https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Updates-Recommendations-on-Car-Seats-for-Children.aspx