Pennsylvania’s Child Restraint Laws: How to Keep Your Child Safe in the Car?

Parents are usually cautious when it comes to the safety of their children. Many new parents will baby-proof their homes when their child is born. However, sometimes there may be an oversight, and they might do things they don’t even realize are potentially endangering their little one. Often these mistakes are made when it comes to driving with a child. Since infants and children are more susceptible to injuries, even a small mistake or a minor accident could cause them to get severely hurt.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released data showing that in 2019, 1,053 child passengers, aged 14 and younger, died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. On average, three children are killed and 502 children are injured every day in the U.S. in motor traffic accidents that year. 

How to Keep Your Child Safe Inside and Around Cars?

  • Car seats and restraints play a vital role in keeping children safe. Hence, it is best to purchase good-quality car seats and restraints. 

According to the Attorney Rich Godshall of Ostroff Injury Law, “Parents are careful about putting their child in a good car seat or restraint, but they sometimes use the restraints incorrectly. Unfortunately, this oversight can lead to the child being injured during a collision or accident, so it’s important to be sure you follow all instructions correctly.”

  • Do not have any distractions while driving. Stay focused on the road. Do not drive if you are tired or in an emotional state. 
  • Always buckle in your child and put them in a safety seat, even for a short car ride. 
  • Never leave children unattended in a car.
  • Ensure the car is locked when not in use. The keys should also be hidden or kept away from a child’s reach.
  • Teach children to be careful around cars from a very young age. Negligence can cause harm to your child, so it is best to teach your children to be highly vigilant around cars. 

Choosing the Right Car Seat for Your Child

When picking a car seat, you must carefully examine the seat and ensure it is appropriate for your child’s age, weight, and height. You should also properly install it in your vehicle and read the manual carefully before placing your child in it. 

The CDC has set guidelines for choosing car seats. These are slightly stricter than Pennsylvania laws. 

According to the CDC guidelines, you should use a rear-facing car seat until your child is two years of age or has reached the maximum height or weight limit of a rear-facing car seat. They also say that you should never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a car.

According to the guidelines, forward-facing car seats are appropriate for children until five years old or when they reach the maximum height or weight limit of the car seat. 

Booster seats are suggested for children who have outgrown forward-facing car seats. The guidelines say that all children under 12 years should ride in the back seat. The middle back seat is considered the safest spot in the car. 

What Are Pennsylvania’s Laws Regarding Car Seats and Restraints?

All the states in the US require that children riding in vehicles use approved car seats, booster seats, or seat belts that are appropriate for the child’s size and age. These laws apply to Pennsylvania too, but there are a few more laws regarding car seats and restraints in PA.

For children up to two years, it is required that the child must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are over the maximum weight and height limits that the manufacturer of the seat specifies. 

  • For children up to four years, it is required that they must be restrained appropriately anywhere in the car in an approved child safety seat.
  • For kids between the ages of four and eight, all children must ride in a booster seat appropriate for their size.
  • For children that are eight years and older, they must always use a seat belt in the car.