Seat Belts and Child Restraints
 
Who must wear safety restraints?

  • All front seat occupants regardless of age. The driver is responsible for   all front seat passengers under age 16.
  • All rear seat passengers under age 16.
  • All children under 4 years old must be restrained in a federally approved child safety seat.
  • Children ages 4, 5 and 6 must be properly restrained in an appropriate child restraint system, one that meets the child's height and weight recommendations according to the child restraint manufacturer.
  • All children under the age of 16 are required to be buckled up when traveling in recreation vehicles, mobile homes and campers if they are equipped with seat belts.
  • Children under the age of four riding in campers, recreation vehicles or mobile homes are required to be in a car seat.

Are children required to wear seat belts on school buses?

  • School buses manufactured after 1987 must be equipped with seat belts, although New York State law does not currently require their use. However, a mandatory use policy may be in effect within your locality. To find out, ask your local school board. By state law, children under four years old must be secured in a child safety seat on a school bus.  

There are Incorrect Ways to Wear Seat Belts

  • Do not wear the belt across your stomach - in a crash serious injury can occur.  
  • Do not place the shoulder belt behind your back - your upper body is not restrained and injuries to the head and chest are likely.
  • Do not wear the belt under your arm - the belt will ride over the lower part of your rib cage which could break ribs and cause internal injuries.
  • NOTE: As of November 19, 2002:
  • In vehicles equipped with a combination lap and shoulder belt, all vehicle occupants who are required to wear seat belts must wear the shoulder strap across the chest, as designed by the manufacturer.
  • In vehicles equipped with restraint systems that have a separate lap belt and shoulder harness, both must be worn by those occupants who are required to bebelted.

Different types of child seats

 

  • Rear-Facing Infant These seats are designed for infants from birth to about 27 inches and up to 20 pounds. These seats must always be used in the rear-facing position. These seats may come with or without a removable base. Use only to weight and height limits specified by the manufacturer. Use only until the infant's head is within an inch of the top of the shell. Infants should remain rear facing until they are at least 20 pounds and a year old. Infants less than a year old who weigh over 20 pounds or have reached the height limitation of an infant seat should use a rear-facing convertible seat.
  • Note: Never place a rear-facing infant seat in the front seat with a passenger-side air bag. Serious injuries or death may result if the air bag inflates.
  • Convertible These seats can be used for both infants and toddlers. Most convertible seats are designed for rear-facing use with infants 5 pounds to 30-35 pounds and for forward facing use for toddlers who are over 1 year old, weighing between 20 pounds to 40 pounds. Follow manufacturer's instructions for use and installation.
  • Forward Facing Only These seats are used for children who are at least one year old and weigh at least 20 pounds. Recommendations for use vary so it is important to check manufacturers' instructions for use. Some forward-facing child seats are also combination seats. This seat is used with a 5-point harness for children up to 40 pounds and for children, who weigh over 40 pounds, the internal harness is removed and the seat becomes a belt positioning booster seat, used with the vehicle's lap and shoulder belt. Special note: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride in a forward-facing child safety seat with the full internal harness until they reach the manufacturer's recommendations for upper size limits.
  • BoosterThese seats are used for children who have exceeded the height or weight limits of convertible and forward-facing seats and provide a transition from child restraints with internal harnesses to the vehicle lap and shoulder belt. Most children ages 4 to 8, approximately 40-80 pounds and less then 4'9" will require a belt positioning booster seat for correct lap/shoulder belt fit.
  • Note: Never use a booster seat with just the lap belt.

When should you move your child from a booster seat to an adult seat belt?

  • Your child should stay in a booster seat until the adult seat belt fits him or her properly. This is usually when your child reaches 4'9" in height and is about 8 years old. Please make sure that your child meets all of the following requirements for a proper seat belt fit:
  • The lap belt should be low across the upper thighs or hips, not across the abdomen.
  • The shoulder belt should lie across the chest and shoulder, not touching the neck or face.
  • Your child should be able to sit with his or her back straight against the vehicle seat back with knees bent at the seat's edge without slouching.
  • Your child should be able to ride this way for the entire trip.

What conditions would make my car seat unsafe?

  • Your child's safety seat MAY NOT BE SAFE if: 
    • it has been in a crash
    • it has missing parts
    • it has no labels or stickers
    • it is on a recall list
    • it is over 6 years old
    • it is not used properly

What is the best car seat?

  • One that fits your child properly for age and size
  • One that fits your vehicle properly
  • One that is easy to use 

Where can I have my car seat inspected?

  • You can have your child's car seat checked for correct installation by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician at a fitting station.
  • Local area sites to be posted as they become available.

Last Modified on October 14, 2010
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