Drivers in Pennsylvania have a few new driving laws, and these concern car seats. Last week, drivers were required to place all children under the age of two in a car seat that faces backwards. Between the ages of two and eight years old, children must ride in a booster seat until they weigh 80 pounds or reach the height of 4’9” tall. Any motorist who does not follow these guidelines risks a fine of up to $75.
This law has actually been in effect since last year, but officers were directed to issue warnings to drivers who violate the statute rather than a ticket. Since August 12, 2017, motorists have been susceptible to being ticketed for not placing their children in the appropriate car seat. Along with the penalty, drivers also will be required to pay court costs and fees.
Safety experts have concluded that when children are placed in a rear-facing car seat, their risk of dying or becoming seriously injured during a car crash decreases dramatically. Since children’s bodies are not able to endure the impact that occurs during a collision, the safest place for them is in a car seat that protects their heads, necks, shoulders and spines during a crash.
Representatives from the American Automobile Association have stated that car crashes are the number one cause of child injury and death in the United States. If children travel in a car seat, the risk of death decreases by 28 percent and the risk of injury declines by 82 percent.
Officials with the Department of Transportation also made their own recommendations. They increased the ages that kids should be in booster seats from eight to ten years old to 10-12 years old.
Car Crash Statistics
The statistics speak for themselves. A study that was conducted this year demonstrated that children who died in car crashes between 2010 and 2014 had not been restrained or were improperly restrained. During those years, 2,885 kids died in car crashes. That is about 11 kids every week.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control also performed a study, and they found that only 35 percent of kids 12 years and younger who were involved in crashes were restrained in 2015.
Choosing a Car Seat
Car seats can pose difficulties for parents because each child may need to be in a different type of car seat and may need to be restrained in a distinct manner. To help parents choose the right car seat for their children, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guides them in their selection of child car seats.
Car seats come in four different styles. The first is the rear-facing car seat, and it is to be used for children under the age of two years. There is also the forward-facing car seat, but this seat has a harness like the rear-facing car seats. Children from age two to age five are designated for this seat.
The third type of car seat is the booster seat that “boosts” the child higher so that he or she is in a better position to be protected by his or her seat belt. From the age of five, children are required to use these seats. They may stop riding in them only when they have reached the recommended height or weight.
The seat belt must be worn after children stop using their booster seats, but the seat belt must lie across the child’s lap and be positioned snugly across the chest and shoulders. If the seat belt rests on the child’s stomach or across the child’s neck, he or she must return to the booster seat.
Where to Have Your Car Seat Inspected
If you still have questions about whether your child’s car seat is correct or not, you may take advantage of the inspection sites that have opened here in the state of Pennsylvania. In addition to the state’s inspection sites, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh also conducts inspections. If you would rather make an appointment to have your car seats evaluated, you may contact the Pittsburgh EMS Training Division to set a time to have your car seat checked.
You also must be aware that some car seats have been recalled due to safety issues. One car seat that was recalled this year is called the Graco “My Ride” car seat, and it was recalled because the harness was ineffective. Visit the NHTSA’s website to learn which other car seats have also been the subject of a recall.
About Karl Heideck
Karl Heideck earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature/Letters from Swarthmore College in 2003. He received his Juris Doctor, Law from Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law in 2009. He has been practicing law for the past 10 years, and his specialties are compliance practices and risk management.
Early in his career, Karl Heideck engaged in government investigations, banking and sub-prime litigation, white collar criminal defense and toxic tort defense. He later expanded his duties to include bankruptcy restructuring, pharmaceutical litigation and major construction.
Karl Heideck’s professional skills include product liability, legal research, commercial litigation, legal writing, corporate law and employment law. Karl Heideck also devotes himself to writing and informing the public about legal matters in his blog. The topics he is most passionate about are the news that is happening in the legal world and changes that would be of interest to the citizens of Pennsylvania.
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