What are Pennsylvania’s car seat safety rules?

Protecting children from harm is a top priority for Monroe County parents. Parental vigilance includes safeguarding children from dangers like car accidents caused by negligent drivers.

About 7,000 children below the age of 5 are involved in motor vehicle accidents statewide every year. More children in the U.S. are hurt and killed in traffic crashes than for any other reason. Pennsylvania’s Child Passenger Protection Act provides guidelines for child safety restraints.

Pennsylvania parents must secure children under age 4 using a federally-approved rear-facing child safety seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends using this seat for babies at least through the first year of life and for children weighing less than 20 pounds – the American Academy of Pediatrics sets the standard at 35 pounds. When possible, keep a toddler in a rear-facing seat as long as the child’s height and weight fall below the car seat manufacturer’s limits.

Forward-facing car seats may be used for young children older than 1. The NHTSA suggests using forward-facing car seats for children up to age 7 or as long as height and weight requirements are maintained.

Pennsylvania law requires children, at least age 4 but under age 8, to be restrained in booster seats. Federal officials recommend using this restraint for children up to age 12, when possible. Seat belt use is permitted statewide for children 8 and older.

Car seats can be purchased that convert from one safety stage to the next. Parents are expected to install and secure car seats, according to manufacturer’s directions using the proper belts, anchors, straps, tethers and harnesses. Drivers can be fined for violating Pennsylvania car seat rules, but other consequences are much more severe.

No parent wants a child to suffer needlessly. Civil claims may be filed against negligent motorists who cause child injuries or deaths. An attorney can help with a claim assessment.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Car Seat by Child’s Age and Size,” accessed July 09, 2015

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