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What should parents know about New York’s car seat safety laws?

Most parents would do anything to protect their kids. But many are unaware of state laws for child car seats, and it’s not a lengthy list. New York has these basic requirements:

  • Children under 2 years old must ride in rear-facing car seats
  • Children under 4 must ride in front or rear-facing car seats
  • Children must ride in child restraint systems until they turn 8
  • All passengers, 8 and older, must wear seat belts

Car seats and restraint systems must be certified to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Besides the age specifications, finding the right safety seat or restraint system for your child depends on several factors, such as weight and height. Violations for passengers 16 and under can result in a maximum fine of $100 and three points on the driver’s record. But the child’s well-being is the most important factor.

Common child safety seat mistakes

Some parents don’t take the time to do enough research before buying car seats or make sure they’re installed correctly. That can lead to disaster for you and your child. Safety advocates point out several errors that parents must avoid.

For instance, never buy a used car seat without knowing its history, especially whether it’s certified. Check to see if the brand and model have been recalled. Next, when installing the seat, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to a “T” and never place it in the front seat of your vehicle near active air bags.

While these mistakes or others could have tragic results, the good news is that plenty of help is available to help you find the right seat and have it installed correctly. You can visit the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee’s website to see upcoming car seat check events near you during the summer.