New York car seat laws state that all children under the age of 2 must ride in rear-facing car seats. Additionally, it mandates that all kids under the age of 4 must be buckled up in a federally approved car seat that is suitable for their height and weight.
In 2022, New York recorded a 25% increase in traffic fatalities from 2018. This worrying statistic highlights the importance of following car seat laws and car safety laws in general. These laws are more than mere guidelines; they help to protect you and your children while driving.
In this article, I will outline everything you need to know about New York car seat laws for various seats, the fine for violations, and helpful resources to help you safeguard your children better.
What are the New York State Car Seat Laws?
New York State car seat laws are essential to follow for the health and safety of your child. Accidents can happen, especially in the cities, and knowing how to keep your child safe is essential. Some of the car seat laws required in New York State include:
Using a Rear-Facing Seat in New York
New York car seat laws explicitly state that children under the age of 2 must ride in a front-facing car seat. The law also requires all children younger than four to use the appropriate car seat. It will depend on the size and age of the child, following the instructions of the car seat manufacturer.
The New York State law does not list the exact age or weight requirements for children to be rear-facing or forward-facing. As mandated by New York laws, the best course of action is to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions.
Most car seats recommend that a child stay rear-facing until they are at least one year old and 20 pounds. Many car seats can hold a child rear-facing for longer if you choose.
Once the child reaches the upper height and weight limits on the car seat, you can decide whether or not to keep them in the car seat. Keeping your child rear-facing for longer is safest, as this helps protect the neck and the head of younger children.
Using a Forward-Facing Seat in New York
New York car seat laws do not explicitly state an exact age or weight for children to be in a forward-facing car seat. However, it states that children can sit in a forward-facing car seat with a harness for as long as possible.
That said, forward-facing car seats can hold up to 50 pounds, with some holding as much as 65 pounds.
As suggested by New York laws, the ideal way is to keep your children in the forward-facing seat, following the height and weight requirements as instructed by the manufacturers.
Using a Booster Seat in New York State
New York car seat laws state that children who are 4 to 8 years old, weigh 40 to 80 lbs., and are below 4 feet 9 inches in height must be in booster seats.
Children can graduate to booster seats when their height and weight are above the forward-facing limits stated by the manufacturer. When this happens, your children can sit in the booster seat until the lap and shoulder belts fit correctly.
Using a Built-in Car Seat
New York State car seat laws do not allow children to be transported using built-in child seats. However, there is no standard for these, so you must check the weight and height limits in your car owner’s manual before using them.
Many built-in child seats are considered “combo” seats that will adjust your child’s growth. Always check the instructions with the car seat to see if they suit your child.
How Will You Know When Your Child is Big Enough for the Seat Belts in Your Car?
There’s no specific age or weight requirement for children to use seat belts in NY. However, New York car seat laws state that children should only use seat belts when they fit correctly. The shoulder belt must lie across the middle of your child’s chest and shoulder, while the lap belt must be low and snug across their upper thighs.
When switching your child to a seat belt, ensure the belt will fit properly. The seat belt should fit across your child’s lap, not the stomach. The shoulder belt must fit across the shoulders, not under the arm.
Other Car Seat Safety Laws in New York State
New York State has several other car seat safety laws to follow. In addition to the weight requirement, there are a few other recommendations. All children younger than 12 should be in the vehicle’s back seat.
Use the same car seat laws and recommendations for your child if they need to sit up front. Turn off the airbags on that side of the vehicle.
New York State Car Seat Laws for Infants
New York State car seat laws require infants to be in rear-facing car seats until they’re at least 2 years old.
However, you can easily look at the recommendations for the car seat you would like to choose. Most car seats for children ages birth to one are rear-facing, with some designed to hold children up to age two or three.
Facing backwards in the car is often the safest position for your child when they are firstborn. This helps add some extra protection and can keep the neck safe when driving. Follow the instructions from the manufacturers on the rear-facing car seat to ensure it is being used properly.
New York State Taxi Car Seat Laws
New York State car seat laws require all taxi and Uber drivers to wear seat belts. This seat belt must remain on while the vehicle is in motion. The state also requires that all passengers in the front seat and above the age of 16 wear seat belt.
All those sitting in the back of a taxi are encouraged to wear seat belts to stay safe. It is required that children 16 and younger wear seat belts, even in the back of the taxi. If you plan to bring your younger children to the taxi, you must bring your car seat. The taxi or Uber driver must allow you to correctly install the car seat.
Taxi and Uber drivers are not required to provide a car seat, though some companies will if you call ahead. Parents are still responsible for restraining their children while riding in a taxi or Uber.
Always install the car seat properly in the taxi or Uber before placing your child inside and riding, it will keep your child safe on the road.
Can a Car Seat Be Used Next to an Airbag in New York State?
New York state law does not prohibit a child passenger from sitting up front, even with a fully equipped airbag. This means the car seat can be used in the front seat if necessary.
However, not all paediatricians and auto safety experts advise doing this. Studies have shown that when an airbag is deployed, it can lead to severe and fatal injuries to babies, toddlers, and young children.
Even some smaller adults may be injured when the airbag deploys. It is always safer to place children in the back of the vehicle until they are at least five feet tall.
Airbags are safest for those over five feet tall as long as they use a lap and shoulder belt. New York State law does require that all passengers who are in the front seat of a vehicle wear their seat belts.
What Are the Penalties for Violating New York State Car Seat Laws?
New York State does have penalties for violating the car seat laws. The penalty for violating the safety belt and car seat laws is a fine of $50.
If you commit three of these offenses, your driver’s license will be flagged, and the fine will increase to $100 if a child under the age of 16 is involved and not wearing a seatbelt.
Remember that in New York State, all passengers under the age of 16 must wear a seat belt. All passengers in the vehicle’s front seat must always wear a seat belt.
Authorities can pull over a vehicle if they suspect a passenger or the driver is not restrained properly. Always use the proper restraints as listed above.
Child Passenger Safety Initiatives
To promote child passenger safety, New York has several initiatives to help you ensure your car seats are in optimal condition. These initiatives are:
Seat Check Events: Here, you can filter seat check events by date and time to make appointments to check your car seats.
Fitting and Inspection Stations: 295 fitting and inspection stations are scattered across New York to help you inspect your car seats.
The New York State car seat laws are more open to interpretation than those in other states. This may confuse parents who want to keep their children safe.
However, the rules listed above should help parents understand how New York State laws work about car seats. Following the recommendations on your chosen car seat will also make things easier.
Can my 10-year-old sit in the front seat in New York?
No. New York law states that children under 13 must ride in the backseat.
Is there a weight limit to sit in the front seat in New York?
New York does not have a specific weight requirement for children to sit in the front seat. However, they must be 13 or older.
What is the age and weight limit for booster seats in New York?
New York law states that children should be in booster seats until seat belts fit, typically between the ages of 8 and 12. While there are no set laws, New York states that you must follow your car seat manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.