We always want to ensure safety for all — with our children on top of the list.
This is why car seats and seat belts are a must.
Not only that, but it’s actually a law in Pennsylvania.
So not only are you risking lives — you’re breaking the law, too.
But what exactly does the law say about car seats and seat belts?
Well, let’s dive deep into Pennsylvania car seat laws + seat belt laws.
We’ll discuss the laws in detail. Then we’ll move on to the penalties.
We’ll even give you some other safety tips for children in vehicles and talk about airbags.
We have it all here for you.
So let’s begin!
Car Seat Laws in Pennsylvania
Children 8 years old and below are required to be in a child safety restraint when in a moving vehicle.
Moreover, the State of Pennsylvania has laws on the specific age and type of child safety restraint used.
Let’s look at this:
- From birth to 2 years old – must be in a rear-facing car seat.
- From 2 to 4 years old – must be in a forward-facing car seat.
- From 4 to 8 years old – must be in a booster seat.
- From 8 years old and above – must wear a seat belt (if it fits properly).
Okay, we don’t mean that, once your child reaches 2 years old, you have to get rid of the rear-facing car seat and get a forward-facing one.
Since the rear-facing car seat is the most protected, it’s a good idea to continue using it for as long as possible.
However, once your child reaches the weight and height limit of the car seat, that is the time you need to switch it out.
The same is true for the seat belt.
If your child is already 8 years old but cannot properly fit a seat belt, it’s safest to continue using a booster seat (even though it’s not required by law anymore).
Get what we mean?
Car Seat Penalties in Pennsylvania
The driver is the one responsible to keep children in the proper safety restraint — whether they’re the parent or not.
So, if caught, the driver is the one who will face the penalty.
And, take note that this is a primary law.
If a traffic enforcement officer spots a child without restraints, he can stop the vehicle and give you a ticket.
Penalty fines will be $140, plus court fees.
You can dismiss the fine if you can show proof that you already purchased a child safety restraint.
Safety Tips for Children in Vehicles
Aside from using the proper car seats, there are other ways you can keep your child (and pets) safe in a vehicle.
Here are some safety tips suggested by the state:
- Always check the car seat – is it securely fastened? Are the harnesses snug on the child?
- Never leave a child or pet unattended inside a vehicle – even if you’ll only take a while. Children and pets are very susceptible to heat stroke, especially during the summer.
- If it’s cold and your child needs a jacket or blanket, do not place it under the harnesses – this prevents the harness from snugly securing your child. Instead, place the jacket/blanket over the car seat.
- Always pack essentials for your child – wipes, diapers, extra food, and extra clothes.
- Though it isn’t a law, it’s best to avoid placing your child in front, even if they can already wear a seat belt. The backseats are always the safest place for children.
- Give toys or a device to distract your child. This will also prevent them from distracting you.
Pennsylvania Seat Belt Laws
Now, let’s move on to the adults.
The Pennsylvania seat belt law has 3 parts.
“All drivers and front-seat passengers of a vehicle must wear a seat belt.”
“If you are below 18 years old, you are required to wear a seat belt no matter if you are seated at the front or back.”
“If the driver is below 18 years old, all passengers are required to wear seat belts, whether they are in the front or back. Also, the number of passengers should not exceed the number of available seat belts”.
This goes without saying that you MUST wear the seat belt properly.
Otherwise, the seat belt isn’t effective and you can still get a violation.
Here is how to wear a seat belt properly:
- The harness should not be too loose when it’s buckled. For children whose seat belts are loose, it’s best to place them on a booster seat with a harness.
- When fastened, the lap belt should be over the upper thighs and pelvic area. The shoulder belt, on the other hand, has to be over the chest and shoulders.
- Do not put the shoulder belt over the seat or under your arm.
Seat Belt Penalties in Pennsylvania
Is the Pennsylvania seat belt law a primary offense?
If the driver is below 18 years old, then it is a primary offense — so a police officer can stop you and give you a ticket for no other reason than not wearing a seat belt.
The same is true if any 18-year-old passenger isn’t wearing a seat belt.
Other than that, the law is a secondary enforcement — you need to be charged with another violation to receive a seat belt conviction.
Everyone not wearing a seat belt will be fined a minimum of $10, plus court fees.
Airbag Safety Information
If your vehicle has an airbag, are you still required to wear a seat belt?
Remember, airbags are not seat belt replacements.
Rather, it adds extra protection.
Let’s say you get into a car crash.
The seat belt keeps you in place, while the airbag cushions you from hitting the dashboard or side doors.
Both protect you.
Now, if you aren’t wearing a seat belt, you can be thrown around — and the airbag can’t help you in this scenario.
Here are other important things to know about airbags:
- Driver and front passenger seats should be moved as far back as practical to give a bigger space between you and the dashboard/steering wheel. This is so there will be more time for the airbag to deploy and keep you cushioned.
- It’s best to keep children 12 and below away from airbag zones. Airbags have a forceful impact that might just injure a child more than protect them.
Those were the Pennsylvania car seat laws and seat belt laws.
Sure, there are things you can’t control when you’re on the road…
But wearing safety restraints can reduce the dangers of any collision.
So always make sure that your child is in the proper safety restraint.
As for you and your other passengers, always wear seat belts.
It’s for the safety of everyone.
We’ll say it again, always buckle up!