When you’re planning a family trip to New York, it’s important that you make sure to follow local (or exceed) the child passenger safety laws.
Official New York Car Seat Laws
You can find the official New York car seat law in the New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law Section 1229-C(1).
New York Rear-Facing Car Seat Law
New York rear facing car seat law requires children to remain rear facing until at least 2 years old unless they exceed the car seat’s rear-facing height or weight limit. While the law doesn’t specify that it’s referring to a convertible car seat, the precise language implies that reaching the size limits is only an applicable exemption for kids riding in car seats that offer a forward-facing mode (meaning convertible or all-in-one car seats).
Rear-facing is significantly safer for children as it dramatically decreases the risk of head and neck injuries. This resource is full of great information.
The current guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the State of New York is that children should remain rear-facing to the limits of their convertible car seat. Nearly all convertible car seats today will accommodate kids up to 40 pounds (they have variable height limits so read your manual) – the size of an average 4 year old – rear facing.
Though it’s not specified by the law, research indicates that kids should continue riding in a harnessed car seat (whether rear-facing or forward-facing) until at least age 5, 40 pounds and mature enough to sit properly for the whole drive. NY car seat law allows children to stop riding in a harnessed car seat when they have reached 4 years old or 40lbs though they recommend using the harness until the child reaches the limits of the seat.
New York Booster Seat Law
New York’s law for booster seats requires children to ride in a booster seat (or harnessed car seat) until they reach 8 years. Be sure to follow manufacturer minimum and maximum size requirements for your booster seat – most manufacturers now require a minimum of 4 years old, 40″ tall and 40 pounds.
Most children do not fit properly in an adults seatbelt until 10-12 years old, when they pass the 5-step test. The New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee rightly encourages parents not to rush out of the booster seat until the adult seatbelt fits properly.
When Can Kids Ride In the Front Seat In New York?
New York State doesn’t specify a front seat age minimum. However, many car manufacturers specify that kids should not ride in the front until age 13. Here’s an excellent explanation of why.
Taxi Car Seat Law in New York City
Unfortunately for kids, taxis in New York City are exempt from the New York state car seat laws. Children 8 and up need to at least be buckled with an adult seatbelt, while younger children are permitted to (extremely dangerously) ride on an adult’s lap. If you’ll be visiting New York City with kids, be sure to read about taking a taxi, Uber or Lyft with your kids before you go.
Upcoming Changes To New York Car Seat Law
New York instituted its 2 year old minimum to forward face in 2019 and hasn’t made any changes since then, nor are there any pending proposals.
Get the latest from New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee
If you’ll be flying to New York, be sure to bring one of these travel car seats. If you’re planning a family road trip, consider one of these comfortable convertible car seats or comfortable booster seats. Check more car seat laws by state as you plan your route.