Car Seats, Child Restraint Safety Laws

New York State Car Seat Laws (Infant, Booster..)

Ashley Davis

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In this post, we have shared detailed guidance on the NYS car seat laws including front-facing, rear-facing, and booster car seat regulations including in taxi cabs such as Uber, Yellow Cabs, and Lyft.

In summary, NYS requires each passenger under age 16 to wear a seat belt or use an appropriate child safety restraint system. If your child is under 4 years, you should properly secure him/her in a federally-approved child safety car seat that is attached to a vehicle by a safety belt or universal child restraint anchorage (LATCH) system.

We have more specific requirements on age, front-seat, rear-facing, front-facing, booster seats, and more below but before that, here is some brief on child safety statistics in NY state:

Child Safety Stats

According to CBS New York, 4,000 children were injured or killed in New York State in 2018 and this resulted in the 2019 expansion of car seat laws in New York State. The big change that took effect on November 1, 2019, requires babies to sit in the rear-facing seats until they are 2 years old, as opposed to the law that preceded this that required infants to sit in the rear-facing seat if they are below 12 months.

New York joins other states such as Oregon and Ohio which have required babies under the age of 2 to use rear-facing car seat restraints. A few states such as Kentucky do not have age limitations but use the height of the baby to determine the car seat requirements for babies.

During a 2019 New York State child safety seat checkup, over 90% of the child restraints were being misused in some manner. The back seat is the safest place for a child to be when you are driving. Always make sure the child is appropriately restrained.

The New York State officials require all seats and restraints systems to be accredited as outlined under the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standard 213. What else does the NY law require?

New York Car Seat Laws Front Seat

A brief on NYS’s Department of Motor vehicles (DMV) website specifies that “child safety restraint system should not be used in the front seat of the vehicle“. Read more here.

It is recommended that children of 2 years and below should travel in the back seats. By the time they are above 2 years, the car’s seat belt should be able to fit properly and securely.

New York Car Seat Laws Rear-Facing

If your child is 2 years and below, the New York law states that your baby must sit in the rear-facing car seats. Also, ensure that your baby is not using second-hand child safety seats that could have expired or without some parts. Previously, infants of age 12 months and above could use forward-facing seats but the new law that took effect on Nov.1, 2019, requires that all children under the age of 2 remain in rear-facing seats.

If you are the driver, ensure that you regularly check your baby’s car seats at local fitting or safety events to ensure children are properly restrained.

New York Car Seat Laws Forward-Facing

According to the New York law, children aged between two (2) to four (4) years and with a weight not exceeding 40 lbs. should be secured in a forward-facing seat. For more information and instructions concerning weight and height limits, check out the manufacturer’s info on the seat manual.

NYS Booster Seat Law

In New York State, a child below the age of 4 and weighing more than 40 pounds are required to be restrained in a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt for safety. In addition, any child of age 4, 5, 6, or 7 must use a booster seat with lap and shoulder below or a child safety car seat.

Here is a summary of Booster car seat laws in New York State;

If your child grows too big to be accommodated into an infant or convertible seat, they can step up to a booster seat. New York State law requires children between 4 to 8 years to use booster seats, and they must weigh 40 lbs. to 80 lbs., with a height below 4 feet, 9 inches. A child under age four who weighs more than 40 pounds may be restrained in a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt. Read more here.

Make sure you use the booster seat in combination with a shoulder and lap belt. Children should use booster seats for as long as possible before being allowed to use a regular seat belt. Ensure the booster seat is correctly installed and secured.

Booster Car Seat Law NY Exception:

There are exceptions to NYS booster car seat laws as explained below;

If your child is a biggie, with over 100 pounds and a height of more than 4 ft and 9 inches, your child can use a seat belt instead of a booster seat. The seat belt should, however, have a lap belt and shoulder harness. Another requirement to use a car seat belt instead of a booster seat is that your child must be able to sit straight up against the vehicle’s seat with both knees bent comfortably over the edge of the seat.

The lap belt should be placed low and tight across the upper thighs; the shoulder belt should rest tightly but comfortably across the child’s chest and shoulder (collar bone) without touching the throat. If the seat belt does not fit properly, the child should use a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt.

Your child can only use a booster seat when lap and shoulder belts can be used together. If all the combination lap and shoulder belt positions in the vehicle are already occupied by children using child safety seats or booster seats, a child who ordinarily would use a booster seat should be restrained using only the lap belt.

New York Car Seat Laws Taxi/Public Transport

New York State law requires all for-hire vehicles and taxi drivers, as well as the back and front-seat passengers (16 years +) to wear seat belts. If you board a cab with a child, be sure to bring your own car seats, which taxi cab drivers must allow you to fix or install. According to Uber and Lyft websites, they are providing forward-facing car seat services to parents in New York City.

If you have a child aged 7 years and below, the law allows them to sit on an adult’s lap.

When it comes to car seat safety, public transport is and has been slightly tricky! First off, there is no law concerning such. Second, bus and subway car seats have no seat belts, which makes it harder to use a child restraint. So, what should you do? Child safety specialists recommend parents and caregivers use public transport to use a combination stroller/car seat.

Uber Car Seat NYC Laws

Prior to 2020, New York City (NYC) taxi cabs such as Uber, Lyft, or Yellow-cabs sedans did not require car seat restraints and seat belts for anyone riding a taxi cab as the law exempted drivers of taxi vehicles from requiring such. Here is what the old law said;

“Drivers of yellow medallion taxicabs and for-hire vehicles and their passengers, are exempt from laws regarding car seats and seatbelts.  Keep in mind, the TLC encourages everyone in the vehicle to buckle their seatbelts while riding in a cab.  There are no Taxi and Limousine Commission rules regarding this, as it is a state exemption. Passengers with children are encouraged to bring their own car seats, which the drivers must allow passengers to install.”

In January 2020, Senator Brad Hoylman brought a bill to the NY Senate that amended the old law that exempted taxis from car seat regulations. Below is the summary of the bill that has since taken effect;

  • Section 1 of the bill amends the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) to provide that anyone 16 years of age or older is required to wear a seat belt in a taxi or livery.
  • It also prohibits taxi or livery drivers from operating their vehicle unless all passengers between the ages of eight and 15 are restrained by a seat belt.
  • Section 2 of the bill amends the VTL to eliminate the current exemption for taxis and liveries from wearing both portions of a combination lap and shoulder seat belt system.

The 2020 change in law does not introduce the mandate requiring kids to wear car seats in cars but only applies to adults of 16 years and older.

The law further requires the drivers to make sure that each passenger under age 16 obeys the law. The driver can be fined $25 to $100 and receive three driver license penalty points for each violation.

Recent Law Changes

In 2019, New York became the 10th State to increase the age requirements of babies required to be seated in rear-facing car seats.

Car Seat Replacement after Accident

If you are in new York, you should follow National Highway Traffic and Safety’s guidelines that Srecommend that car seats should be replaced following a moderate or severe crash. You can read more details on their website here.

To know whether you need to replace the car seat after an accident in any of New York State’s counties, read NHTSA guide above and follow manufacturer’s guidelines attached:

As such, refer to the recommendations given by the NHTSA: In order to ensure a consistently high level of children passenger safety, make sure car seats are replaced after a moderate or critical crash. If you are involved in a minor crash, a replacement can be delayed for a while, but not ignored. How do you categorize a crash as a minor?

It is when the car could be driven off the crash site, or when the door next to the car seat was undamaged. It also applies if no passenger in the car sustained any injuries in the crash, if airbags did not deploy following the crash, and there is no visible damage to the car seat.

CAUTION: Never use a car seat that has been entangled in a moderate or critical crash, and always remember to follow the instructions from your car seat’s manufacturer.