After a yearlong wait, fines kick in Saturday for car seat violations

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected] | August 11th, 2017 10:07 pm - updated: 10:42 pm.

WILKES-BARRE — State Rep. Karen Boback calls it “a life-saving measure,” and Sen. John Yudichak said Pennsylvania continues to lead the way on child safety.

The two state legislators are referring to the state’s child passenger car seat law that was adopted one year ago and will now be fully enforced — effective Aug. 12, fines kick in for Pennsylvania’s car seat law.

One year ago, Pennsylvania adopted a new law to keep kids safer in the car, requiring that children be restrained in rear-facing child passenger restraint systems until at least age 2, or until they have outgrown the height and weight limits designated by the car seat manufacture.

For the past 12 months, violators have been issued a verbal warning, but on Saturday, the grace period ends and violations will result in a $125 fine.

“I supported this legislation last session and am pleased to see this life-saving safety measure enacted,” Boback, R-Harveys Lake, said. “I recently became a grandmother and have a vested interest in ensuring our children are safe.”

Boback said she has found numerous studies that confirm that children are safer in rear-facing car seats. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Boback said, a rear-facing car seat does a better job at protecting the head, neck and spine of an infant because it distributes the force of a collision over the entire body.”

Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, said he is proud that Pennsylvania is out front on the child safety issue.

“This law protects the most vulnerable in our community and it will surely save children’s lives as enforcement begins,” he said.

AAA Mid-Atlantic issued a report that found car crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for children under the age of 14.

Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the new child car seat regulation makes Pennsylvania a leader in child passenger safety — becoming only the fourth state (at the time) to require rear-facing car seats for children until at least 2 years of age.

“Industry research, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board, clearly shows infants and toddlers should continue to ride rear-facing until they reach the highest weight or height recommended by the manufacturer of the seat,” Tidwell said. “AAA has long supported strengthening Pennsylvania’s car seat law to protect our most precious (and vulnerable) cargo, our children.”

Under the new law:

• Children under the age of 2 must be restrained in a rear-facing car seat.

• Beginning Aug. 12, each violation will result in a $125 fine.

• Eight states require children younger than 2 to be in a rear-facing child seat — California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

Pennsylvania’s law requires:

• Children under the age of 2 must sit in a rear-facing car seat.

• Children under 8 must ride in an appropriately-fitting booster seat until they’re 4 feet 9 inches tall or weigh 80 pounds.

• Parents who fail to abide by the rules could face a fine of up to $75.

PennDOT recommends:

• Select a car seat based on the child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in the vehicle.

• Always refer to the specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.

• Keep the child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.

• Keep children in the back seat at least through age 12.

A child safely secured in a car seat. child safely secured in a car seat. Submitted photo

By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.