Lampitt Bill Bolstering Car Safety for Young Children Gets Final Legislative OK

March 17, 2015

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Pamela Lampitt to bolster car safety for young children was unanimously passed by both houses of the legislature and now heads to the governor's desk.

The bill passed the Assembly in June and was approved by the Senate on Monday.

"With advances in research and car safety technology, recommendations to protect children in motor vehicles are always changing. Just look how different things were just a decade or two ago," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington), chairwoman of the Assembly Women and Children Committee. "Incorporating the latest recommendations will help ensure that we're doing all we can to protect young children in automobiles."

The bill (A-3161) would amend the state's child passenger restraint system and booster seat law to implement the latest car seat safety recommendations.

Under current law, every person operating a motor vehicle equipped with safety belts (other than a school bus) who is transporting a child under the age of eight years and weighing less than 80 pounds must secure the child in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat.

The bill amends the law to specify that when being transported in a motor vehicle:

- A child under the age of two years and weighing less than 30 pounds must be secured rear facing in a child passenger restraint system equipped with a five-point harness.

- A child under the age of four years and weighing less than 40 pounds must be secured:

- in a rear facing child passenger restraint system, equipped with a five-point harness until he outgrows the height or weight limitation for rear facing imposed by the manufacturer of the child passenger restraint system, at which point he will be secured forward facing; or

- in a forward facing child passenger restraint system equipped with a five-point harness.

- A child under the age of eight years and less than 57 inches in height must be secured:

- in a forward facing passenger restraint system which is equipped with a five-point harness, until he outgrows the height or weight limitation imposed by the manufacturer of the child passenger restraint system, at which point the child is to be secured in a rear seat, in a booster seat; or

- in a rear seat, in a booster seat.

The bill would also require the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety to print and distribute materials advising the public as to the changes in the law.

Finally, the bill amends the penalty amount to reflect the current penalty assessed for a violation of the act and removes the provision that a fine must be suspended by the court if the motor vehicle operator was using a child passenger restraint system not

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