According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. Car seats and boosters provide protection for infants and children in a crash so it is important to choose and use the right car seat correctly every time your child is in the car. Remember, the safety belt in your vehicle is not designed for children. A booster seat raises your child up so that the safety belt fits your child correctly and provides better protection.
On April 1, 1982 New York State's first child passenger restraint law went into effect. According to this law, all children must be restrained in an appropriate child restraint system while riding in a motor vehicle, until they reach their 8th birthday. An appropriate child restraint system is one that fits the child according to the manufacturer's specifications for height and weight.
Effective November 1, 2019, the law states that all children under the age of 2 must ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are 2 types of rear-facing car seats: Infant Seats and Convertible/All-in-One Seats.
It is recommended that infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the weight or height limit of the seat. Most children will outgrow a rear-facing infant seat before reaching their 2nd birthday. If the child has outgrown an infant seat, it is recommended that a larger, rear-facing Convertible or All-in-One car seat with higher rear-facing height and weight limits be used. These seats should be installed in the rear-facing position until the child reaches the rear-facing weight or height limit set by the car seat manufacturer.
Find additional information on finding the right seat from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
There are many things that you can do to keep children safe on our roadways.
- Be sure your children are properly and safely restrained for every car ride, every time.
- Get your car seat(s) inspected at a local fitting station or check event. Bring your child with you so that a certified technician can ensure that the car seat is appropriate and fitted correctly for your child.
- Avoid buying used car seats. There is no guarantee for safety when purchasing a used car seat at a garage sale, flea market or thrift store. These seats may be expired, have missing parts, be damaged or may have been recalled. There is no way of knowing if these seats have been in a crash and if they had received damage that can't be seen with the naked eye.
- Never leave a child alone in your vehicle — even if the windows are partially open or the air conditioning is on. Children are more vulnerable to heatstroke and can die within minutes.
- Stay focused on the road and your surroundings. Never drive distracted and never use your cell phone or any electronic device while driving. If there is an emergency, safely pull off the road or into a “Texting Zone” before using your device(s).
- Drive sober. Never drive impaired by alcohol or drugs and discourage others from doing so.
Fitting Stations and Car Seat Check Events
Ensure your child's car seat is installed properly. Find a fitting station near you or attend a car seat check event in your neighborhood.
A fitting station is a permanent location where caregivers can call to make an appointment to have their car seat checked for safety and proper installation. Some examples of permanent fitting stations include police departments, fire departments, health departments and miscellaneous nonprofit organizations. An appointment is generally needed as there may only be one technician that works at the organization at any given time.
A car seat check event is typically open to the public where appointments are not necessarily needed and is only available on a certain date and time. They can be conducted at a variety of locations but are commonly held in open parking lots. There are typically multiple technicians standing by ready to assist anyone that drives by and pulls into the lot.
Questions and comments regarding the statewide Child Passenger Safety Program should be directed to:
Aubrey L. Feldman, MPH, CPH, CHES®, CPST
Child Passenger Safety Program Coordinator
Highway Safety Program Analyst II
Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
6 Empire State Plaza, Room 410B
Albany, NY 12228