TRENTON — Senator James Beach introduced a bill today modernizing the state’s child seat belt laws to help ensure the safety of all children.
Under current law, all children under eight years of age and weighing less than 80 pounds must be secured in a passenger restraint system or a booster seat. The bill would strengthen the law by applying modern-day standards such as rear-facing restraint systems and five-point harness systems. The changes are based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatricians and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
“The state’s current seat belt laws regarding young children are outdated and antiquated,” said Beach, D-Camden, Burlington. “The bill brings those laws into the 21st Century by applying modern standards endorsed by pediatricians that have proven to be safe and effective.”
Under the legislation:
§ Children under the age of two who weigh less than 30 pounds must be facing the rear of the vehicle and secured in a five-point harness seat.
§ Children between the age of two and four and who weigh between 30 and 40 pounds must be in a five-point harness seat, but parents can decide whether they want the seat to face the front or the rear of the vehicle.
§ Children between the age of four and eight who are less than 57 inches in height must be secured in a five-point harness seat or placed in a booster seat.
The bill also requires the Motor Vehicle Commission to print and distribute materials advising the public of the changes in the law. The bill also strengthens the financial penalties and removes a provision that grandfathered in non-compliant car seats.