New York Law Raises Age for Children in Car Safety Restraints

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This week, New York State has increased the minimum age in which a child can legally ride in a vehicle without a restraint system in place. Children under the age of 8 must use a car seat with a harness restraint or booster seat plus safety belt.

Twenty-two states across the nation now require children under 8 to use a child restraint system while in a motor vehicle.

Children must use the devices unless they are more than 4 feet 9 inches tall or weigh more than 100 pounds. If found in violation, drivers can face a fine up to $100 and receive three license penalty points for each infraction.

The law was passed over the summer, citing statistics that children under the age of 8 are typically less than 4 feet 9 inches tall, which is the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommended height for properly using adult safety belts. Booster seats reduce the risk of injury by nearly 60% for young children are too small to fit properly into the car’s built-in safety system.

Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled weekend in the United States. Car safety is important for all riding in vehicles. Each year, thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. The type of seat that a child needs depends upon the child’s age and size and the type of vehicle.

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Infants should always ride in rear-facing safety seats until they are at least one year of age and weigh at least 20 pounds. The harness system should be a 5-point harness which straps over the child’s shoulders and snaps into place between the legs. Never place a rear-facing child seat in the front seat of a vehicle where there is an active air bag.

If the vehicle was made after 2002, it likely has a safety system called LATCH. LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children and is an attachment system that improve safety by eliminating the need to use the built-in safety belt to secure the car seat.

Toddlers age 1 to 4 can ride forward-facing in toddler seats or infant convertible seats, until they reach at least 40 pounds. These seats are also equipped with a 5-point harness system for safety. The seat should also have a tether, which is a strap that attaches to the top of a car safety seat and anchors it to a point in the vehicle. This gives the child’s head extra protection in a sudden stop or crash. The child seat should remain in the back seat, but if that is not possible, move the vehicle seat as far back from the dashboard as possible.

Children between ages 4 and 8 should use booster seats that raise them to a level that the car’s lap and shoulder safety belts fit properly across their chest and legs. Never use only a lap belt with a booster seat.

Children over the age of 8 who do not use booster seats should be able to sit with his or her back straight against the vehicle seat back with their knees bent comfortably over the seat edge. The lap belt should be low across the upper thighs or hips, not across the abdomen and the shoulder belt should lie across the chest and shoulder, not touching the neck or face.

And parents, be a good role model for your children. Always wear your safety belt when driving or riding in a car and educate your children on car safety.

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