If you think your child doesn’t need to be buckled into her car seat for just a short trip, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation urges you to think again. Traffic crashes are the number-one cause of injuries and deaths among children in the state, and 75 percent of crashes happen less than 25 miles from home.
What Are the Car Seat Laws in Pennsylvania?
Under Pennsylvania law, children younger than age 4 must ride in a federally approved car seat that is correct for the child’s height, weight and age. Between ages 4 and 8, children must ride in a booster seat if they no longer ride in a car seat.
The state seat belt law requires children between the ages of 8 and 17 to use a seat belt; a violation of the law is considered to be a primary offense. When drivers or passengers over the age of 18 ride in a car with no seat belt, the law classifies it as a secondary offense.
Because a deploying air bag can pose dangers
to children, PennDOT states that minors age 12 and younger should always ride in the back seat. The maximum fine for violating child restraint laws in Pennsylvania is $75 for a first offense.
Car Seat Safety Tips
State law enforcement agencies offer a number of tips for using child car seats correctly. They advise:
- Choosing a child safety seat that is appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height.
- Choosing a seat that works with your vehicle and always using it, even for short trips.
- Reading and following instructions from both car seat makers and vehicle manufacturers when installing a child car seat.
- Registering your child car seat so you will be alerted if the product is subject to a recall because of a manufacturing or installation defect.
- Using the vehicle seat belt to attach the child car seat to the car, unless you are using a car seat that includes the LATCH system.
- When using the LATCH system, follow the installation instructions in the owner’s manual for your specific vehicle make and model.
- Ensuring that the harness for the seat fits properly.
- Using a tether strap if the specific model of car seat requires one.
- Having your child ride in the car seat for as long as possible, if the child remains within the manufacturer’s guidelines for height and weight.
- Having your child always ride in the back seat until at least the age of 12.
Riding Safely at Every Age
No matter your child’s age, be sure to use the proper safety precautions in case of a serious traffic accident.
- Birth through 1 year: Always use a rear-facing car seat; you can choose among several varieties, including an infant-only seat or a convertible or 3-in-1 seat, which allows your child to use the seat longer.
- 1 to 3 years: Have your child ride in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible for maximum safety. Once your child outgrows her rear-facing seat, she may ride in a front-facing seat that includes a harness.
- 4 to 7 years: When your child outgrows a front-facing seat equipped with a harness, the next step is a booster seat that remains in the back seat of the vehicle.
- 8-12 years: Your child should ride in a booster seat until he grows big enough to properly wear a seat belt. The lap belt should sit comfortably across the child’s upper thighs rather than the stomach area, and the shoulder belt should go across the shoulder and chest, not the face or neck. The child should continue riding in the back seat.
Consult Qualified Philadelphia Auto Accident Attorneys
If you or your child have suffered injuries in a vehicle accident, it’s crucial to work with a compassionate attorney to ensure that you receive fair compensation. The experienced legal team at Solnick & Associates, LLC, is ready to assist you. Please contact us for a free consultation.