What are Pennsylvania’s child safety seat laws?

Parents, relatives and caregivers of children in Pennsylvania will want to be educated about the state’s laws and requirements for child safety seats and restraints.

Keeping babies and children safe is an ongoing concern of parents and caregivers in Pittsburgh. This concern extends to all aspects of a child's life, including safety when riding in a motor vehicle. Laws in Pennsylvania as in other states have evolved over the years as more data has shown the effectiveness of child safety restraints and seats in saving children's lives when accidents occur.

Guidelines for the first years of life

Just Drive PA explains that for the first 12 months of life, babies should ride in rear-facing car seats. These seats should always be installed in the back seat of vehicles. After a first birthday, the recommendation of the state as well as of the American Academy of Pediatrics is to keep children in these rear-facing seats as long as possible. Each manufacturer will provide guidelines for the maximum weight and height that a seat can safely accommodate. Keeping children in a seat until these maximums have been met is ideal.

Guidelines for the early school-age years

Children under the age of four are required to be in a child safety seat. If they are too large for a rear-facing seat, a front-facing seat may be used. Once they reach the age of four, they may transition to a booster seat. However, the APA and the state continue to recommend that the harness seat is used until a child outgrows that seat. A booster seat should be used until a child reaches the age of eight.

The Pennsylvania Code outlines that some exceptions to the use of a booster seat may apply to children between the ages of four and seven. One of these exceptions is for kids who are over four feet and eight inches tall or who weigh 80 pounds or more. There are also some medical conditions, which may necessitate an exemption to the required use of a booster. In these situations, a special certification must be obtained by providing details about the condition along with provider information.

Preventative steps are important

Once children outgrow booster seats, they can use the seat belts in a vehicle. Kids under 12 should continue to ride in the back seat of all vehicles. Failure to follow the state's laws for child safety in vehicles can result in the imposition of fines as well as the required payment of court costs.

These preventative measures are designed to keep kids safe. If children are injured in vehicle accidents, parents are urged to contact an attorney for help.