Are child safety seats and child restraint systems required in New York State?
Yes. New York State law requires that
- all children under the age of 2 must ride in a rear-facing car seat
- all children under the age of 4 ride in child safety seats
- all children ride in child restraint systems until their 8th birthday
Safety seats and child restraint systems must be certified according to Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standard 213. Follow the instructions of the manufacturer of the seat or system, and make sure you install and use the seat or system correctly. The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee website has a list of permanent child safety seat fitting stations in NY State.
How do I select the correct child safety seat or child restraint system?
To select the correct protection for your child, carefully read the recommendations of the car seat manufacturer. The recommendations tell you the weight and height a child can be to use the car seat or restraint system. The recommendations are normally printed on the outside of the package.
An appropriate child seat or restraint system:
- is required for all children until their 8th birthday
- must meet the height and weight requirements for the child
- can be a car seat, a harness, a vest or a booster seat attached with the vehicle's seat belt system
- should not be used in the front seat of the vehicle
These examples can help you to select the correct child safety seat
- Infant seats are normally for infants that weigh approximately 22 pounds or less, are 25 inches or less in length. Always place the seat in the back seat of the vehicle and make sure the child safety seat faces rear of the vehicle. Never put an infant in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger-side air bag.
- Convertible child safety seats are normally for infants or toddlers that weigh approximately 40 pounds or less. For infants, face these seats toward the rear of the vehicle. Follow manufacturer instructions to adjust the seat as the child grows. For the best possible protection, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that a child continue to face the rear for as long as possible up to the weight and height limits specified by the seat manufacturer. For toddlers, you can change a convertible seat to face the front of the vehicle.
- Booster seats are for children who have outgrown convertible or toddler seats. Booster seats are for children who are 4 to eight 8 old, weigh 40 to 80 pounds, and are less than 4 feet, 9 inches in height. You can use a booster seat until an adult seat belt correctly fits the child without use of the booster seat. Always use both the shoulder and lap belts with a booster seat. Never use only the lap belt with a booster seat.
- Built-in child seats are available with some vehicle models. Built-in child seats fold away from the standard car seats. Do not use these seats for infants.
Always read the instructions and the information provided in the vehicle owner manual about the use of child safety seats or child restraint systems. Make sure you install and use the seat or system correctly at all times. Never use an infant seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger-side air bag. Make sure that other passengers use their seat belts.
Can I use a child safety seat in a car with air bags?
It is not illegal under NY State law for a child passenger to ride in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger air bag, but it is dangerous. Recent studies show that air bags can cause serious or fatal injuries to infants, children or small adults that sit in the passenger-side front seat. It is also normally safer for a child of any age to ride in the back seat of any vehicle.
For the best child passenger protection in your vehicle
- Never put a child safety seat that faces the rear of the vehicle in the front seat of a vehicle if the vehicle has a passenger-side air bag.
- Do not put small children in the front seat of vehicle that has an air bag. Put a child that does not use a safety seat and who is less than 5 feet in height in the back seat.
- If a child must ride in the front seat, make sure the car seat is installed as far back as possible. Fasten the child securely in the child safety seat or lap and shoulder belts. An air bag that opens suddenly can cause a serious injury to your infant or young child.
- Air bags, used with seat belts, provide the best protection for older children and adults during an accident.
- Remember that the back seat is the safest location for children to ride. Read more tips on the correct use of safety seats and child restraint systems.
Visit the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee website for more information on occupant protection.
What is the seat belt law in New York State?
New York State law requires all motor vehicle passengers ages 8 and older to wear seat belts, regardless of seating position. Children under the age of 4 must ride in a car seat and children under the age of 2 must ride in a rear-facing car seat. See the information above about safety restraint systems required for children until their 8th birthday.
The penalty for a seat belt or car seat violation is a fine of up to $50. If the violation is for a person under the age of 16, the driver receives a maximum fine of $100 and three driver violation points upon conviction.