Brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability among youth in America. Teen drivers and passengers are at the highest risk of brain injury from a crash. Younger children are best protected from brain injury in passenger related crashes by using age appropriate car seats and safety devices as they grow. Please note that the New Jersey passenger safety/car seat law changed as of September 1, 2016.
Birth to age 2: A child under age 2 and under 30 pounds must be in a rear-facing car seat with a 5-point harness. Parents are often concerned that a child’s legs are bent at the knees in order to fit into the rear-facing position; they may feel more comfortable when they can see their child’s face in the rear-view mirror. The reality is that the rear-facing seat is much better protection against brain injury.
Ages 2 to 4: Children must remain in either a rear-facing or forward facing car seat with a 5-point harness in the back seat of a vehicle at least until they are 4 years old or 40 lbs. Once a child has reached 2 years of age or 30 lbs., the car seat can then be forward-facing.
Ages 4 to 8 (or older): Children must remain in a booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle until they are at least age 8 or 57 inches tall. It is best to keep a child in a booster seat until s/he grows enough so that the seat belt fits properly. Remind your child that the booster seat is safer than a seat belt for kids their size, and point out that they can see out of the vehicle windows much easier from an elevated position.
Motorists are responsible for ensuring the safety of all passengers in their vehicle. The New Jersey seat belt law requires all passengers and children under age 18 be secured by a seat belt. To be sure your child is ready to move to a seat belt, keep in mind that proper fit is all about the bones: the collar bone and hip bones.
If a vehicle does not have a back seat (pick-up trucks, etc.), a child can ride in the front seat in a car seat or booster seat, but vehicle’s front airbag must be disabled.
Parents or adults may not always be there when children get on or off the school bus, so it is very important to teach them how to make school bus travels safe.
Teach your child to:
- – Wait for the bus in a safe place off of the road
- – Stand away from the trees, bushes, cars
- – Respect the “danger zone,” the 10 feet around the bus where the driver’s view is blocked
- – Wait until seen by the driver to go near the bus
- – When getting off the bus step far away so that other drivers can see you
- – Wait for the driver to signal that it is safe to cross the street
- – Look left-right-left before crossing the street