Child Safety Seats

How long should children be in a car seat? In seat belts?

Under Pennsylvania’s Primary Child Passenger Safety Law, children under the age of 4 years old must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle.

  • Children younger than age 2 must be secured in a rear-facing car seat until the child outgrows the maximum weight and height limits of the car seat.
  • Children from age 2 up to age 4 may be transitioned to a forward-facing child safety seat.
  • Children from age 4 years old  up to age 8 years old must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat.
  • Children from age 8 years old up to age 18 years old must wear a seat belt anywhere in the vehicle.

Are there different types of rear-facing car seats?

Yes, the Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position,  thus allowing your child to stay rear-facing for a longer period of time.

Are there additional recommendations for the use of child safety seats?  

Yes, there are several recommendations for the safety of your child that go beyond state law, please see below:

1 to 3 year old children:

Keep your 1 to 3 year old children in  REAR-FACING car seats as long as possible, they should remain in rear-facing position until they reach the top height or weight limits allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.

Once they have reached the height and weight limits of the seat, they may be transitioned into a FORWARD-FACING car seat with a harness.

3 to 5 year old children:

Keep your 2 to 5 year old children in FORWARD-FACING car seats with a harness until they reach the top height and weight limits allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.  Once they reached the car seat’s height and weight limit of the seat they may be secured in a BOOSTER seat.

5 to 8 year old children:

Children MUST remain in a booster seat until AT LEAST their 8th birthday.  It is always safest to have your children ride in the back seat.

Children older than 8 years of age:

Children should remain in BOOSTER seats until they are big enough to fit the car seat belt systems properly.

A seat belt will fit properly when the lap belt is snug on the upper thighs and not up on to the stomach.  The shoulder belt should be securely across the chest and shoulder, not the neck and face.

It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all children under the age of 18 are wearing their seat belt wherever they are in the vehicle.

They should remain riding in the back seat as it is the safest place.

Who does child safety seat inspections?

Please dial 1-800-CAR-SEAT or contact the Safe Kids Coalition by dialing 1-888-232-7233.

You may find additional information at the following links:

Safe Kids Pennsylvania

American Academy of Pediatrics

Playing it Safe With Kids and Cars

Winter and Summer Safety Tips