Is it required for a child in New Jersey to ride in a car seat?
How old until a child can use a seat belt?
What car seats should you use?
As a parent, you will most likely have all kinds of questions about car seats.
Well, we’re here to answer those questions.
Today, we’re going to tell you all you need to know about the New Jersey car seat laws. And, we’ll also mention the seat belt law for adults.
With this, you will be able to keep yourself, your passengers, and your children safe.
So let’s begin!
Car Seat Laws in New Jersey
Under New Jersey law, all children below 8 years old or below 57” tall must be placed in an FMVSS-approved child restraint system.
Now, what type of child restraint system is required?
Let’s take a look.
- A child under 2 years old and weighing less than 30 pounds – a rear-facing car seat secured with a 5-point harness.
- A child 2-4 years old and weighing less than 40 pounds – a forward-facing car seat secured with a 5-point harness.
- A child 4-8 years old and below 57” tall – a federally approved booster seat situated on the back seat.
- A child 8 and older and taller than 57” – no longer requires a safety restraint system. However, they must wear a seat belt at all times.
NOTE: It’s best to wait until your child reaches the max weight and height recommendation for a rear-facing car seat before moving to a front-facing car seat. The same is true for a forward-facing car seat to a booster seat.
Another law that you must keep in mind is that children below 8 years old are NOT allowed to sit in the passenger seat. You must always install the safety restraints at the back.
An exemption is if your vehicle doesn’t have rear seats. If so, then make sure to deactivate the airbags (if you have any) before installing the safety restraint at the front.
Car Seat Penalties in New Jersey
Since the car seat law is primary enforcement, a traffic enforcer can pull you over if they spot your child without safety restraints.
The penalty is a fine of no less than $50 and no more than $75. However, that doesn’t yet include court fees.
On top of that, you may also receive penalty points on your driver’s license.
But the biggest danger of not restraining your child is the injuries they might receive if you get into a crash.
So even if the penalties aren’t harsh, your main concern in obeying this law is to keep your child safe.
Seat Belt Law in New Jersey
Moving on to seat belts.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a whopping 51% of car crash deaths in 2020 were not wearing seat belts.
This proves the point — seat belts save lives.
This is why, in New Jersey, wearing a seat belt is mandatory for ALL passengers of a vehicle.
The law further states that the driver is responsible for all passengers below 18 years old. The driver must ensure that they wear their seat belts — and wear them properly.
Seat Belt Penalties in New Jersey
Violating the New Jersey seat belt law results in a fine of $46. It is a non-moving violation, though, so it will not earn demerit points on your driver record. However, it can still increase your auto insurance premiums.
Now, when it comes to the New Jersey seat belt law, there is primary enforcement and secondary enforcement.
We already saw what primary enforcement means (see explanation above). As for secondary enforcement, you can only be given a summons for it if the vehicle is stopped for committing another violation, i.e speeding, crossing a red light, etc.
If the driver, front passenger, or anyone below 18 years old isn’t wearing a seat belt, that is primary enforcement.
If the back seat passengers (18 years or older) aren’t wearing a seat belt, that is only secondary enforcement.
Seat Belt Exemptions in New Jersey
There are a few exemptions to the New Jersey seat belt law. This include:
- The vehicle was manufactured before July 1, 1966
- The vehicle is not required to be equipped with seat belts under federal law
- You have a physical or medical condition that does not allow you to wear a seat belt (you must have written proof signed by a licensed physician for this)
What You Should Know About Seat Belts
Here are some things you should know about seat belts:
- Seat belts save lives, but only if you wear them properly. The lap belt must be under your abdomen, across your hips. The shoulder belt should touch your collarbone and cross over your breastbone.
- Seat belts are designed to secure you in your seat and keep you from being thrown off your car during an accident.
- Passengers in the front seat must still buckle up even if the car has an active airbag. Airbags supplement seat belts — not replace them.
- Airbags can injure you because of the impact if you do not wear your seat belt.
- Make sure your seat belt fits nicely. If it’s too loose, it cannot secure you in position in case your car spins or skids. Fit matters because the belt will help distribute the impact force to the strongest parts of your body.
- Make sure the child safety restraint is secured. To test it, try pushing the car seat and see if it moves. If it moves more than an inch, that means it isn’t secured enough.
And that was everything you needed to know about New Jersey car seat laws and the seat belt law.
Remember, these restraints are there for the GOOD of everyone. So don’t think it’s fine to do without them.
If you do, you will face fines, points, and high auto insurance premiums.
Even more dangerous, you may face severe injuries or, worse, death.
Nobody wants that.
So always buckle up.
And always ensure your children are secured in the proper safety restraint.