Pennsylvania car seat laws are in place to help keep your child safe. These are the minimum requirements and parents can choose to keep their child in any of the child safety seats for longer if they feel it is best.
Pennsylvania car seat laws require all children under the age of 2 to use a rear-facing car seat.
Children ages two to four may use the proper forward-facing car seat. Booster seats should be used until the child is at least eight years old.
Pennsylvania also encourages parents to follow the maximum weight and height of the car seat too, even if that puts the child as older than the requirements under Pennsylvania car seat laws.
Children under the age of 13 should sit in the back when possible and all children 18 and younger must wear a seat belt. Let’s take a closer look at the car seat laws in Pennsylvania so you will know what type of car seat or child safety seat to use with your child.
- Pennsylvania Rear Facing Car Seat Laws
- PA Forward Facing Car Seat Law
- Pennsylvania Booster Seat Laws
- Pennsylvania Seat Belt Laws
- New Car Seat Laws 2020 in PA
- Pennsylvania Car Seat Laws in a Taxi
- PA Car Seat Laws Pickup Trucks
- Pennsylvania Car Seat Laws Front Seat
- What Are Fitting Stations?
- Is There Financial Help?
- Pennsylvania Car Seats Law & Special Needs
Pennsylvania Rear Facing Car Seat Laws
The Pennsylvania rear-facing car seat laws require a child to use a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years old. Parents may also choose to keep the child rear-facing after their second birthday. The best practice is to keep the child rear-facing until they reach the maximum weight or height limits of your chosen seat.
It is always best to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. Pennsylvania car seat law requires you to keep your child rear-facing until they are two. But many parents choose to do this until their child is older.
Pennsylvania also requires all car seats to be installed properly. This means the car seat will not move off the belt path, the car seat will recline to prevent the infant’s head from falling forward, and no additional products are put on the car seat, including hanging toys.
PA Forward Facing Car Seat Law
Pennsylvania car seat laws allow a child who is between the ages of two to four years to use a forward-facing seat. Your child should not be placed forward-facing any earlier than 2 because this increases their risk of getting harmed.
Once you do turn your child around and start using a forward-facing car seat, you should keep them in the five-point harness until they reach the maximum weight or height of the car seat.
Pennsylvania Booster Seat Laws
Pennsylvania car seat laws allow children between the ages of 4 and 8 to use a booster seat. You may choose to keep your child in a forward-facing car seat past the age of eight as well.
Your child must be at least 40 pounds before you place them in a booster seat, regardless of their age. If your child is four years old but under the weight limit of 40 pounds, you should keep them in a five-point harness instead.
A booster seat is a good option for your child, as long as it is used properly. Once your child is the right weight, you can transition them over to an approved booster seat when you are ready.
Once your child weighs more than 80 pounds or is taller than 4’ 9”, you can transition out of a booster seat and into a safety belt as well. The child should stay in the booster seat until they fit safely using the vehicle safety belt.
Even though children can transition to a booster seat at the age of 4, it is recommended that the child remains in a five-point harness car seat for longer. Once the child reaches the maximum weight or height limits of that car seat, then you can move them to the right booster seat.
Pennsylvania Seat Belt Laws
Pennsylvania seat belt law requires all children under the age of 18 to wear a seat belt or use a child safety seat. This is required no matter where the child sits in the seat.
The driver of any vehicle must wear a seat belt as well. While other passengers are not required to wear a seat belt, it is still recommended.
It is also required that there are enough seat belt restraints for every passenger in the vehicle. If you have five passengers, there must be enough seat belts available for all five people. The passengers, if old enough, can choose not to wear them, but seat belts must be present.
New Car Seat Laws 2020 in PA
Pennsylvania has come out with new car seat laws in 2020. One of these laws is that all children must use a rear-facing car seat until age 2. In the past, the age limit was lower. This change is done on recommendations by the APA and to keep your child safer.
The previous law in Pennsylvania only states that children under the age of four must use a child safety seat. It never went into detail about whether the child should be in rear or front-facing seats. It also didn’t specify that the child should sit in the back of the vehicle.
The new car seat laws in Pennsylvania spell out the specific rules for a child riding in a car more clearly. They include the rules we discussed above. Lawmakers in the state hope this helps keep children safer.
Pennsylvania Car Seat Laws in a Taxi
Pennsylvania car seat laws require your child to still use the proper child safety seat when riding in an Uber or a taxi. If the child is younger than two, they must use a rear-facing car seat. Children ages two to four must use a forward-facing car seat. And children up to the age of eight may use a booster.
It is the responsibility of the parents to have their child in the right child safety seat. Some Uber’s and taxis may provide a car seat if you give them advanced notice. If the company does not provide this, the parent must bring their own.
PA Car Seat Laws Pickup Trucks
Pennsylvania car seat laws in pickup trucks do allow your child to sit in the front seat. This is only done if the pickup truck does not have a back seat or all the other seats are used by children in child safety seats.
If you are using a full-sized pickup, there should be room in the back seat for your child. It is always safest to put them in one of the back seats.
For smaller pickups, the child may sit up front if there are no seats available in the back. Parents should still use the proper child safety seat based on the age, height, and weight of the child.
The middle seat is the safest position in the front. If available, place your child there rather than to the side. Make sure all airbags are turned off while the child is in the front of the vehicle.
Pennsylvania Car Seat Laws Front Seat
Pennsylvania car seat laws recommend that your child remains in the back seat until they are 13. It is always safer for children to stay in the back seat of the vehicle for as long as possible.
All children ages 8 to 18 must wear a seatbelt in Pennsylvania. This is important whether they sit in the front of the back seat.
There are a few exceptions. If the vehicle does not have a back seat or all the available backseats are taken by children in the proper child safety seat, then a child under the age of 13 may sit in front.
This may happen in a small car when driving with four children or in a pickup without a back seat at all. It is always best to use the proper child safety seat even when your child sits in the front.
If there are enough seats in the back of the vehicle, then your child must sit there, using the proper safety seat or restraint, until they are 13. Parents may choose to keep their child in the back for even longer.
What Are Fitting Stations?
If you are still unsure if you have your child’s car seat hooked up correctly, you can stop by a fitting station for help. PennDOT funds over 75 locations where you can go to check the safety of your car seat. Using a locator tool online, you can find a fitting station on the Safe Kids website that is near you.
A fitting station is a place where you can go to confirm that you are correctly hooking up the car seat. If you are having any difficulties, you can get help with them here. This is a certified establishment that is in accordance with Pennsylvania state laws.
The trained technicians will examine your set up and give you tips and advice on how to make the car seat safer. This is an excellent tool for parents in Pennsylvania. Aside from finding a fitting station, the Safe Kids website will also provide you with the latest car seat recall information. You deserve to have peace of mind in knowing that your child will be safe in the car.
It is important to know if your car seat has any recalls attached to it. The seat might be fine at first, but over time, studies could find that it is unsafe. Just as this happens to cars and car parts, it can also happen to car seats.
Is There Financial Help?
Having a car seat is a necessity, but it can also be very expensive for some families. Those in need of assistance can participate in Pennsylvania’s car seat loan programs. They are designed for lower-income families to borrow car seats for the duration that they are needed.
The seats that are loaned come in a variety of brands and models — From infant car seats to convertible booster seats, you will be able to find the right one for your child. If you aren’t sure where to begin, you can search on Pennsylvania’s Travel Injury Prevention Project website for more information.
If you need to find a car seat at a discounted rate but do not want to participate in a loan program, ensure that what you are purchasing is not a counterfeit model. A proper car seat will have a serial number that correlates to the given manufacturer. Without this, you could be dealing with a counterfeit.
Pennsylvania Car Seats Law & Special Needs
All children must follow Pennsylvania laws regarding car safety, those with special needs included. it is advised to use a car seat for special needs children. There are different kinds of restraints and wheelchairs that can make travel accessible for all.
PennDOT works with schools, hospitals, and parents regarding these special circumstances. They provide information that is helpful to those needing to transport special needs children. If you have a child that meets these criteria, PennDOT can give you some recommendations as to where you can find an appropriate car seat.
Ways special needs children can ride in the car include:
- Car Wheelchairs: The car will need to have extra room to accommodate the chair and a way to enter/exit. For example, it will likely have ramps and/or lifts.
- Specialty Car Seats: A lot of name-brands create car seats that are appropriate for special needs children. These seats might include extra features such as a special harness or additional room.
Pennsylvania has recently updated their car seat laws in 2020 to make them safer for your child. They now match up more closely to the recommendations of the American Pediatric Association guidelines.
These guidelines require your child to sit rear-facing until they are 2, in a forward-facing car seat until they are four, and in a booster until they are eight. The child must remain in the back seat whenever possible until they are 13.
Parents always have the option to keep their child in each seat for as long as possible. Following the maximum weight and height limit is always the best option to keep your child as safe as possible.