PennDOT, Police Highlight New Child Passenger Safety Law, Urge Motorists to Participate in Seat Checks

Posted on Tuesday September 20, 2016

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Pennsylvania State Police are encouraging motorists to properly restrain children and educate themselves on the updated child passenger safety law as the agencies mark National Child Passenger Safety Week on September 18 through September 24. Additionally, Saturday, September 24 has been designated as “National Seat Check Saturday.”

“PennDOT urges parents and guardians to remain informed as child safety laws and seats evolve,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “We encourage the public to take advantage of our seat checks and educational materials throughout the year to ensure that each child gets to their destination safely.”

PennDOT funds resources such as training and educational materials for 171 fitting stations across Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania State Police check more than 2,500 seats annually. The checkups are designed to teach drivers the proper installation and use of child safety seats.

“A properly installed child safety seat can be the difference in keeping your child safe in the event of a crash,” said Major Edward C. Hoke, Director, Bureau of Patrol. “We urge parents and caregivers to take advantage of the free safety seat check events being held around the state during the week.”

Motorists are reminded that Pennsylvania’s primary seat belt law requires drivers and passengers under 18 years old to buckle up, and children under the age of 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children ages 4 to 8 must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat.

A new Pennsylvania law that went into effect August 2016 requires a child under 2 years of age be securely fastened in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system, which is to be used until the child outgrows the maximum weight and limits designated by the manufacturer. In addition, children ages 8 to 18 must be wearing a seat belt when riding anywhere in the vehicle. Also, drivers and front-seat passengers 18 years-old or older are required to buckle up. If motorists are stopped for a traffic violation and are not wearing their seat belt, they can receive a second ticket and second fine. Because of the potential dangers associated with air bag deployment, children ages 12 and under should always ride buckled in a vehicle’s back seat.

The State Police Bureau of Patrol also offers the following tips:

– Read and follow the car seat and vehicle manufacturers’ instructions;

– Use the car’s seat belt to anchor the seat to the car unless you are using a child safety seat with the LATCH system;

– Fill out and return the registration card for your seat so you’ll know if it is recalled because of a problem;

– Make sure the seat’s harness fits snugly; and

– Use a tether strap if the seat requires it.

For more information on car seat safety and to get a list of state police car seat safety inspection locations and dates, click on the “Public Safety” link at

To view a list of PennDOT-supported car seat checks and for more child passenger safety resources, visit click on “Traffic Safety and Driver Topics” and then “Child Passenger Safety.”