Child passenger safety is a big priority in Nebraska.
That’s why there are strict car seat laws in the state.
And that’s why, today, we’re going to focus on the Nebraska car seat laws. We’ll explain the law in detail and give you the penalties.
On top of that, we’ll also look at the seat belt laws, primary and secondary enforcement, as well as safety restraint recommendations.
We have it all for you here.
So let’s get started!
Car Seat Laws in Nebraska
Nebraska law clearly states that…
“All children up to eight years old must be in a car seat while in a moving vehicle.”
However, one car seat for 8 years won’t do.
Depending on your child’s age, height, and weight, you have to use different ones. It can quickly get confusing — so let’s break it down into 4 phases.
Phase One: A Rear-Facing Car Seat
The first car seat you must get is a rear-facing one. All kids under 2 years old must use this when traveling.
But wait, there’s more!
The car seat must be in the backseat — and this remains true for all children until they turn 8 years old.
NOTE: If you have other children that fill up the backseat, you may put your child in the front passenger seat.
You might wonder — is it possible to transition your child to a different car seat before they turn 2? The short answer is yes.
All rear-facing car seats have a maximum height and weight limit. Manufacturers determine these and may vary between brands, so don’t forget to check them.
If your child exceeds these limits, using the same car seat may cause more harm than good.
Phase Two: A Front-Facing Car Seat
Nebraska law doesn’t specify what kind of car seat to use after the child outgrows a rear-facing one.
But according to experts, the next best thing is a front-facing car seat.
It must still be in the backseat and in an area where you can use the top tether to help secure the seat in place.
The head tether minimizes the movement of the seat in a collision. In turn, it prevents your child from being thrown forward, which could cause significant injury.
Like rear-facing car seats, front-facing ones also have height and weight limits. You’ll have to ensure your child is within these limits while using it. Otherwise, it won’t give the right amount of protection.
Phase Three: A Booster Seat
Once your child outgrows the front-facing car seat, you can now use a booster seat until they turn 8 years old.
NOTE: Even if your child is already 8 years old, a booster seat is still recommended if they cannot snugly wear a seat belt.
Unlike the previous car seats, booster seats don’t come with a 5-point harness. Instead, you use your car’s seat belts to buckle up your child.
Phase Four: An Adult Seatbelt
8-year-olds are no longer required to use a car seat. However, they are still required to buckle up if they are under 18 years old. And yes, this implies regardless of where they sit, front or back.
What’s crucial at this point is that your child wears the seatbelt correctly.
If the shoulder strap goes across their neck, it may cause injury. The same goes if the lap strap is too high on their abdomen. If that’s the case, it’s best to continue with the booster seat until they are tall enough.
Car Seat Penalties in Nebraska
What happens if you break the Nebraska car seat laws?
Here are the resulting penalties:
- A $25 fine (excluding court costs)
- One additional point on your driver’s license
But the worst penalty of all is if something happens to your child just because they weren’t properly restrained.
So even if you think the penalties aren’t that harsh, you don’t want to risk your child’s safety.
Seat Belt Law in Nebraska
When it comes to the seat belt law for adults, Nebraska isn’t too strict about it. In fact, only the front passenger and driver are required to buckle up.
Of course, if a backseat passenger is under 18 years old, they are also required to wear a seat belt. Everyone else at the back, though, does not have to.
That said, it’s still best that everyone wears a seat belt to ensure safety.
On top of all that, the seat belt law is secondary enforcement (more on this below).
Seat Belt Penalties in Nebraska
You’ll pay a $25 fine if you violate Nebraska’s seatbelt law. But remember that this amount doesn’t include court costs, so be prepared to spend more than that.
Primary and Secondary Laws in Nebraska
The Nebraska car seat laws are primary enforcement, while the seat belt law is secondary.
What does this mean?
A primary law means a law enforcement officer can pull you over and give you a ticket for that violation alone.
When it comes to Nebraska’s car seat laws, the following have primary enforcement:
- Children must use an approved car seat until they turn 8 years old.
- Children under 8 years old must ride at the back. However, if other child passengers occupy the backseat area, you may place the car seat in the front seat.
A law enforcement officer can only give you a citation for violating a secondary law if they pull you over for a different offense.
Here are the seat belt secondary laws in Nebraska:
- Children between 8 and 18 must wear a seat belt or booster seat.
- The front passenger and driver must buckle up.
- A driver holding a School Permit or a Provisional Operators’ Permit must ensure all his passengers buckle up, whether in the front or back.
Safety Restraint Recommendations
Getting people to use safety restraints is one thing — making sure they wear them properly is another.
So when it comes to seatbelts, ensure the following:
- The shoulder belt is away from your neck but not off your shoulder. The strap should fall across your chest or between your breasts.
- Don’t put the shoulder strap behind your back or arms.
- Remove any slack from your seatbelt. The lap strap must be snug across your hips.
- Do not place the lap strap on your belly.
Remember, though, that your vehicle has more than one safety feature. Besides seatbelts, there are also airbags.
Airbags can injure children, the elderly, and short-statured adults, so it’s best to know how to use them correctly.
- If the driver seat has an airbag, keep a minimum distance of 10 inches between you and the steering wheel.
- Keep your hands at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions on the steering wheel. This way, even if the airbag deploys, it won’t injure you.
- Do not place a rear-facing car seat in an airbag-equipped area of your car.
- You can place a forward-facing car seat in the front passenger area. However, push the front seat back as far as it can go.
And finally, remember that manufacturers designed airbags to work with seatbelts, not as a standalone. It is more likely to cause injury if it deploys and you’re unrestrained.
The Wrap Up
And that was all you needed to know about Nebraska car seat laws and seat belt laws.
To summarize, children under 8 years old MUST be put in a car seat. Rear-facing, front-facing, and booster seats will depend on their age, height, and weight. This is primary enforcement.
As for seat belts, the only ones required to wear them are children 8 to 18 years old (whether they sit in the front or back), and adults in the front seats. This is a secondary law.
It’s important to follow these laws to ensure safety for all.
Be a safe and responsible driver!