Child Passenger Safety
PennDOT cares about protecting our children and encourages all adults to take the responsibility of keeping them safe when riding in a vehicle. It is our job to make sure they buckle up — from the time when children are too young to do it themselves to the time they climb behind the wheel for the first time.
Child Passenger Safety Week 2016
PennDOT is working with its highway safety partners and law enforcement officials for the upcoming Child Passenger Safety Week, which runs from Sept. 18-24. Throughout this week, trained car seat technicians will be available to make sure your car seat is properly installed. Look for a car seat check near you.
Pennsylvania's Seat Belt Law
Under Pennsylvania's primary child passenger safety law, children under the age of 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle.
Children under 2 must be secured in a rear-facing car seat until the child outgrows the maximum weight and height limits designated by the car seat manufacturer.
Children from age 4 up to age 8 must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat.
Children from age 8 up to age 18 must be in a seat belt.
Car Seat Recommendations for Children
- Select a car seat based on your child's age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.
- Always refer to your 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.
- To maximize safety, keep your 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 your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
Your child under age 2 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing; Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It's the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it's time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: Your child should still ride in the back seat because it's safer there.
Child Safety Seat Fitting Stations
PennDOT provides funding for more than 75 fitting stations where trained technicians will check that the child safety seat is properly installed. To find a fitting station near you, search the fitting station directory. Use your city and state to find a certified child passenger safety technician through the Safe Kids Website.
Child Safety Seat Loan Programs
In many counties across the state, loan programs provide child safety seats to families in need to help them follow the law and keep children safe when riding in vehicles. Loan programs may carry a variety of seats, including infant seats, convertible seats, combination seats and booster seats. To find a loan program near you, search the car seat loan directory.
Transportation for Children with Special Needs
The Traffic Injury Prevention Project sponsored by PennDOT provides school districts, school bus contractors, hospitals, pediatricians, parents and other health care providers with the most current information about the atypical transportation needs of children with special health care needs, teen parents, special education students and the preschool population. Information is available for passenger vehicles, school buses/vehicles, as well as wheelchairs and child passenger safety restraints.
For more information on child passenger safety in Pennsylvania, visit the PA Traffic Injury Prevention Project or call 1-800-CAR-BELT.