New law requires rear-facing child seats in New York State

MINEOLA, Long Island (WABC) -- A new child seat safety law went into effect Friday requiring New York drivers to keep infants and young toddlers in rear-facing child safety seats until they are at least two-years-old or reach the maximum height and weight for the seat being used.

The new law seeks to better protect vulnerable babies and toddlers, who often have disproportionately large and heavy heads and are at risk of serious neck, head and spinal injuries when thrown forward in forward-facing car seats.

More than 4,000 youngsters, ages four and under, were injured or killed in car crashes in New York State from 2017-18. NYU Winthrop Hospital, which sees many pediatric emergency room visits due to vehicle crashes, is heralding this safety improvement that was championed in the State Legislature by AAA Northeast.

"Prior to their teens, children have a spine strength that is only about 25 percent of that of an adult," said D'Andrea Joseph, chief of the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery at NYU Winthrop Hospital. "Compounding that weakness is the rapid back-and-forth head movement that can occur in a car crash. It's well-established that car seats save the lives of children and, in particular, that rear-facing car seats help decrease the rapid back-and-forth motion of the infant head, which otherwise could result in significant and permanent injuries."

Sinclair noted that many states already have similar rear-facing car seat safety laws in place, including neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut. Children in cars that are driving to or through those states must have rear-facing seats. Additional states with the law include Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, California, Oklahoma and Oregon.

In New York State alone, more than 14,000 tickets were issued from 2017-18 for safety restraint violations involving children.
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