Assemblymember Cahill: New Law Requires Car Safety Seats for Children Up To Age 7

April 7, 2005

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) announced that a new law he supported (Chapter 509 of 2004) has gone into effect as of Sunday, March 27, 2005. This measure requires children aged 4, 5, and 6 years who are under 4 feet 9 inches to be seated in a booster seat before being buckled with a conventional auto safety belt.

"Many parents assume that their children are safe in a seat belt once they’re no longer legally required to be in child safety seats. Unfortunately this is not the case," Assemblymember Cahill noted. "Seat belts are designed for adults and can be dangerous for small children, causing potential neck injuries, choking and abdominal injuries." Proper use of a booster seat will place the lap belt appropriately on small children.

New York has joined more than 25 states nationwide that now have booster seat laws for children above the age of 4. Mr. Cahill noted that while school buses, liveries, taxis and public transportation buses are exempt from this new restraint law Chapter 509 of 2004 requires a notice in all rental car agencies reflecting these change in New York law. "Booster seats are an extremely affordable and worthwhile investment and may be purchased at local retail stores for between $14 and $26," Mr. Cahill noted. Failure to comply will result in fines between $25 and $100.

The Assembly and the Senate have passed an amendment to the law requiring booster seats to be used only with combination lap and shoulder belts (A.3357/S.3089). The National Highway Transportation Safety Association explicitly advises to never use a booster seat in conjunction with a lap-only safety belt, as it places a child at risk of injuries. Parents should follow these recommended guidelines when using booster seats to ensure the safety of their children:

  • The booster base should be used with adult lap and shoulder belt in the rear seat.
  • The shoulder belt should rest snugly across the chest, rest on shoulder; and should NEVER be placed under the arm or behind the back.
  • The lap-belt should rest low, across the lap/upper thigh area—not across the stomach.

For more information on automotive safety, visit:

  • www.safekids.org – a national campaign promoting child safety;
  • www.ntsb.gov – the national transportation safety board;
  • www.nhtsa.dot.gov – the national highway traffic safety administration; or
  • www.aap.org – the American Academy of Pediatrics.