New Jersey parents have always looked forward to a child’s first birthday. Not only is it cause for celebration, it was also the day on which the law allowed car seats to be flipped from rear-facing to forward-facing. As of TOMORROW, SEPTEMBER 1, 2015, however that changes.
New Jersey law is falling in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations, which have said that children should remain rear-facing until at least 2 years old or weighing more than 30 pounds.
“The science and studies are quite clear,” said Howard Mazin, an Englewood Hospital and Medical Center attending pediatrician, who has always urged his patients to keep their children rear-facing until age 2. “I know all parents want what’s safest for their kids.”
The other big change in the law is that kids should be in a booster seat until age 8 or 57 inches. Previously it was until 8 or 80 pounds. Children younger than 4 years old or under 40 pounds must be in a seat with a five-point harness (ideally rear-facing until hitting the limits set by the seat manufacturer) not a booster seat using the regular seat belt. The fines have also been raised from a minimum of $10 and maximum of $25 to a minimum of $50 and maximum of $75.
It’s that flip to forward-facing that is going to cause the most angst.
The AAP recommendations are based on findings published by BMJ Injury Prevention. This study compared injury statistics for 15 years worth of crashes involving children under age 2. Researchers compared the injuries sustained by the children in crashes and found “the odds of severe injury for forward-facing infants under 12 months of age were 1.79 times higher than for rear-facing infants; for children 12 to 23 months old, the odds were 5.32 times higher.”
*See N.J.S.A. 39:3-76-2a.
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