The use of car or
booster seats are required in New Jersey for all passengers who are younger
than 8 and weigh less than 80 pounds, making it the most stringent such
requirement in the country.
The law also requires the use of seat belts for children who are
heavier or older, up to age 18, no matter where they are seated. Adults must
wear seat belts only if seated up front.
New Jersey's current child-restraint law was ranked last in child protection in a survey of the 50 states last
year by Safe Kids, a child-safety group based in Washington. New Jersey
was one of 24 states to receive a failing
grade in the survey.
Booster seats are typically designed for
children 30 pounds and up. They typically work by boosting a child several
inches off the regular seat so that he or she can use the regular seat belt.
Car seats are designed for smaller children
and have their own harness or restraint system. A car seat tilts the child back
slightly for added protection; children in booster seats sit upright.
The various foam-padded seats differ widely in
cost, ranging from $20 to more than $100, with features including headrests and
Both are acceptable under the new law, which
allows police to ticket drivers for each child not using such seats.
A handful of other states have enacted
booster-seat laws, but none have the age and weight limits as high as New Jersey's,
according to federal data. A few do have stronger penalties.
Drivers in New Jersey from out of state are
subject to the new law, but New Jersey officials said those motorists likely
would be issued a warning instead of a ticket - at first.
Child passenger restraint system; booster seat, use; failure to use not
contributory negligence; inadmissibility in evidence.
person operating a motor vehicle, other than a school bus, equipped with safety
belts who is transporting a child under the age of eight years and weighing less
than 80 pounds on roadways, streets or highways of this State, shall secure the
child in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat, as described in
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 213, in a rear seat. If there
are no rear seats, the child shall be secured in a child passenger restraint
system or booster seat, as described in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard
Number 213. In no event shall failure to wear a child passenger restraint
system or to use a booster seat be considered as contributory negligence, nor
shall the failure to wear the child passenger restraint system be admissible as
evidence in the trial of any civil action.
L.1983,c.128,s.1; amended 2001, c.244, s.1.
Seat belt usage requirements for persons ages 8-18; driver's responsibility.
2. a. Except as provided in P.L.1983, c.128 (C.39:3-76.2a et al.) for
children under eight years of age and weighing less than 80 pounds, all
passengers under eight years of age and weighing more than 80 pounds, and all
passengers who are at least eight years of age but less than 18 years of age,
and each driver and front seat passenger of a passenger automobile operated on a
street or highway in this State shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened
safety seat belt system as defined by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard
The driver of a passenger automobile shall secure or cause to be secured
in a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system, as defined by
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 209, any passenger who is at least
eight years of age but less than 18 years of age.
For the purposes of the "Passenger Automobile Seat Belt Usage Act,"
the term "passenger automobile" shall include vans, pick-up trucks and