New York Car Seat Laws: What You Need to Know

Car seats and seat belts can save lives and reduce the risk of serious injuries brought about by traffic crashes.

This is the main reason why New York car seat laws require the use of child restraint systems for children and seat belts for adults.

New York Car Seat Law

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Under the New York State Law, a child traveling in a motor vehicle must be properly restrained in an appropriate restraint system until the age of eight.

All children below two years old are required to ride in a rear-facing car seat.

The appropriate child restraint system should perfectly fit the child with reference to the manufacturer's height and weight specifications.

It should be certified according to the standards set by the Federal Motors Vehicles.

Note: Effective November 1, 2020, passengers aged 16 and above must be restrained in a seat belt.

4 Steps 4 Kids

Follow these four steps to ensure the safety of your children.

1. Rear-Facing Car Seats

The rear-facing car seat must be used until the child is two years old or when the highest height and weight limit has been reached.

2. Forward-Facing Car Seats

The forward-facing car seat with a harness is recommended for children two years or older.

3. Booster Seats

Typically, booster seats are used by children between eight to 12 years old or until the lap and shoulder belts fit them properly.

4. Seat Belts

Use the lap and shoulder belts once it perfectly fits your child.

The lap belt must snug across the upper thighs while the shoulder belt must lie across the middle of the chest and shoulder.

Child Safety Seats on School Buses

Under the New York State Law, school buses manufactured or produced after July 1, 1987, must be equipped with seat belts.

The school bus driver should wear a seat belt while children under four years old should ride a federally-approved child restraint system.

However, each school district can also set its policy regarding the use of seat belts by other passengers.

Child Safety Seats in School Vehicles

School vehicles, including school vans, SUVs, and suburbans, must install a federally-approved child restraint system if they are carrying children below eight years old.

Child Safety Seats on TLC-Licensed Vehicles

Parents who are riding TLC-licensed vehicles can bring their child restraint systems.

They are encouraged to know the proper use of their car seat on the vehicle prior to the ride.

Also, several car services in New York provide car seats and booster seats upon the customer's request.


Children below seven years old are allowed to sit on an adult's lap when riding taxis or for-hire vehicles.

Child Safety Seats and Airbags

Under the New York State Law, it is not illegal for a child to occupy the front seat equipped with an airbag.

However, this is not recommended by most pediatricians and car experts due to safety issues.

Deployed airbags can cause serious injuries to babies and even small adults; thus, seating children in the rear seat is still the best option, especially for those below five feet in height.

Keep in mind that airbags in combination with the lap and shoulder seat belt are safe for those above five feet tall.

Penalties for Violations

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The penalty for violating the New York State Car Seat Law is a fine of up to $50.

If the violation involves improperly restrained children below 16 years old, then the penalty can reach up to $100, along with three driver violation points once convicted.

A vehicle driver can be pulled over by law enforcement if suspected carrying a passenger that is not properly restrained.


- Seat belts are not required when riding emergency vehicles or when using 1964 or older models.

- Children with medical problems or physical conditions may be exempted from the car seat law as long as there is a physician's certification regarding the condition.

Safety Tips for Parents

As responsible parents and caregivers, you must provide the utmost protection to your children. Here are some of the things that you can do to keep them safe on the roads.

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1. Ensure that your children are safely and correctly restrained in the car at all times.

2. Have your car restraint system inspected by a certified technician at a nearby fitting station.

Bring your child along to ensure the appropriate and proper fitting of the car seat for your child.

3. Never buy used car seats as there is no guarantee for their safety.

Seats from a garage sale or thrift store may be expired, damaged, recalled, or come with missing parts.

4. Avoid leaving the child alone or unattended in the car, even the air conditioning unit is on, or the windows are partially open.

Children, especially the younger ones, are more prone to heatstroke, causing death within minutes.

5. Stay focused while driving.

Avoid using cell phones and other devices that can cause distraction.

During an emergency, you can safely pull off the road before using your device.

6. Use a stuffed toy as a reminder of whether your child is in the vehicle or not.

Place a toy in the car seat when not in use and on the front passenger seat when the child occupies the car seat.

7. Do not drink and drive!

Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Programs and Initiatives

The programs and initiatives are the ongoing efforts of GTSC to ensure the children's safety in the roadways.

1. CPS Training Program

GTSC provides a statewide coordination program involving Child Passenger Safety.

This training helps increase awareness and convey information on the proper use of the restraint system.

The CPS training program also maintains an updated list of certified technicians and instructors and training classes for your reference.

2. Fitting Stations and Car Seat Check Events

GTSC supports agencies that offer free car seat inspections located at fitting stations and check events.

Its purpose is to educate parents and caregivers on how to use the child restraint systems, as well as on the appropriate selection and proper installation.

3. Child Passenger Safety Week

GTSC, together with their state and local safety partners, participate in the Child Passenger Safety Week

This aims to ensure that children are using the correct car seats and that they are registered with the manufacturer for safety updates and information.

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4. New York State Child Passenger Safety Advisory Board

The NY CPS Safety Advisory Board was created to promote higher levels of knowledge and skill to technicians and instructors through proper assistance and improved communication.

NYC311 Car Seat Inspection

Let a certified car seat technician check and inspect your car seat for free.

Please make an appointment at a Safety City location or get it at a special car inspection seat event.

Child Safety Video

The Administration for Children's Services has produced a 14-minute safety video called "A Life to Love."

This features tips on reducing the risk, preventing tragedies, and creating a safer environment for children.

Watch the video to know the potential hazards and to learn how to keep them safe from accidental injuries, such as leaving the child unattended in the car and the proper use of a car seat, among others.

Final Thoughts

A vehicle crash can happen anytime.

So the best way to ensure the safety for you and your children is to follow the law - use the correct child restraint system and seat belt!

It can save you!

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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