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PBA Local 144

Are You Using Your Car Seat Correctly?

New Jersey is one of the safest states in the nation for motor vehicle travel. The Division of Highway Traffic Safety and other safety agencies constantly work to improve roadway safety throughout the state's 21 counties. Through coordination of state and local safety programs, the division strives to reduce traffic accidents and the deaths, injuries, and property damage that result from them.

Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death of children over the age of six months in the United States. The proper use of child safety seats is one of the simplest and most effective methods available for protecting the lives of our young children in the event of a motor vehicle accident.

We are asking all adults to make sure that their children are properly protected while traveling in a motor vehicle. Only the correct use of child safety seats will offer the protection your child needs. So please be aware of the facts listed in this brochure regarding the proper use of child safety seats, and driver sober, safe and buckled.

There are over forty different type of car seats on the market today. Each one must meet federal standards and all provide good protection for your child when used correctly. The "right" seat for you is largely a matter of personal choice. Choose a seat you feel comfortable with, read the instructions carefully, and use the seat correctly on every trip. Correct use is easy if you follow four simple steps:
  1. Read the manufacturer's instructions for your car seat
  2. Face the seat in the right direction
    • Infant seats always face backwards. Baby rides in a semi-reclining position facing the rear of the car.
    • Convertible seats face backwards in a semi-reclining position for infants under one year and 20 lbs., and forward in an upright position for toddlers.
  3. Secure your child snugly in the safety seat
    • Always buckle the seat's harness system securely to hold your child safely in the seat. Allow no more than 1 finger-width of slack between your child's collarbone and the harness straps.
  4. Secure the safety seat with a safety belt
    • Anchoring the seat properly with a seat belt is critical. A seat that is not buckled securely to the car can tip over, slide sideways or, in a crash, be ejected from the car completely. Check your instructions to find out how to route the seat belt properly and fasten it tightly. Also, check vehicle owner's manual for correct method to anchor a child restraint.
These simple steps will allow you to give your child the best protection available on every trip.

Infant Car Seats
  • Designed for infants up to 20 pounds and 1 year.
  • Always face the rear of the car at a 45 degree recline.
Convertible/Toddler Seats
  • Designed to be used from birth to 40 pounds.
  • In the infant position, the seat reclines and faces rearward.
  • For toddlers, the seat faces forward in an upright position.
Booster Seats
  • "Belt Positioning" Booster --positions lap belt properly over child's hips and shoulder belt across chest.
  • Designed for toddlers, usually over 30 pounds.
Protection for Children Over 40 LBS:
A booster seat should be used only when a child has outgrown a convertible/toddler car seat. The options, for children between 40-65 pounds, in order of preference are:
  • A "belt-positioning" booster seat used with a lap/shoulder belt.
  • A shield booster seat
Always Remember...
  • Never hold a child in your lap while riding in either the front or back seat.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for correct installation.
  • The center rear seat is the safest place in the car.
  • Remember: Infants face backward. Toddlers face forward.
  • Always use the car's seat belt to anchor the seat to the car.
  • Make sure the seat's harness fits snugly (one finger width of slack only).
  • Set a good example by using your seat belt every time you travel. All front seat passengers must use a seat belt in New Jersey. It's the law.
  • Studies show that when children are correctly buckled up they are better behaved, feel more secure, fall asleep sooner and are less likely to be injured in the car.
  • Put your child in a car seat every time you travel--even on short trips.
  • Never use a car seat that has been in an accident.
  • Use only federally approved car seats. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) recommends not using a car seat that is 6 years old or more. Many manufacturers now include expiration dates.
It's the Law!
Every state now requires young children to be properly protected while riding in the car. New Jersey's law reads as follows:
  • Children under five years of age must be in a car seat if they are riding in the front seat and must be secured by a safety belt if riding in the rear seat.
  • Children under 18 months of age must be in a federally-approved car seat when riding anywhere in the car.
  • If the number of children under 5 years old exceeds the number of safety belts, children who are not restrained must ride in the rear seat.
  • Failure to comply with the child passenger safety law is a $10 to $25 fine plus court costs.
Do You Need a Locking Clip?
Vehicles manufactured after 1995 generally do not need a locking clip when installing a child safety seat. Please check your vehicle owner's manual or call NJDHTS at 1-800-422-3750.
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