ASSEMBLY, No. 2619
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED DECEMBER 16, 1996
By Assemblyman KELLY
An Act concerning child passenger restraint and safety seat belt systems, amending P.L.1983, c.128 and P.L.1984, c.179 and repealing section 2 of P.L.1983, c.128.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 1 of P.L.1983, c.128 (C.39:3-76.2a) is amended to read as follows:
1. Every person operating a motor vehicle equipped with safety belts who is transporting a child under the age of  eight years on roadways, streets or highways of this State, shall be responsible for the protection of the child by properly using a child passenger restraint system that is designed to accommodate the child's size and complies with the federal motor vehicle safety standard applicable when it was manufactured [, or where the child is 18 months of age or more but under 5 years of age by securing the child with a safety belt in a rear seat. If there are no rear seats, a child restraint system must be used]. For the purposes of this act, a "child passenger restraint system" means an infant, convertible, booster or built-in safety seat or similar child passenger restraint system that complies with the federal motor vehicle safety standard applicable when it was manufactured. In no event shall failure to wear a child passenger restraint system be considered as contributory negligence, nor shall the failure to wear the child passenger restraint system be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action.
(cf: P.L.1983, c.128, s.1)
2. Section 2 of P.L.1984, c.179 (C.39:3-76.2f) is amended to read as follows:
a. Except as provided in P.L.1983, c.128 (C.39:3-76.2a et al.) for children under [five] eight years of age and except as provided in subsection b. of this section for passengers who are at least [five] eight years of age but less than 18 years of age, each driver and front seat passenger of a passenger automobile operated on a street or highway in this State shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system as defined by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 209.
b. The driver of a passenger automobile shall secure or cause to be secured in a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system, as defined by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 209, any passenger in the [front] automobile who is at least [five] eight years of age but less than 18 years of age.
(cf: P.L.1984, c.179, s.2)
3. Section 2 of P.L.1983, c.128 (C.39:3-76.2b) is hereby repealed.
4. This act shall take effect on the first day of the third month following enactment.
The purpose of this bill is to implement National Transportation Safety Board recommendations concerning the mandatory use of child passenger restraint systems by drivers transporting children in motor vehicles.
The bill would require that children seven years old or younger be properly secured in a child passenger restraint system when riding in a motor vehicle. Under current law, children under five years old must be properly secured in a restraint system when riding in the front seat of a vehicle. Since children from birth to seven years of age vary greatly in size, the bill requires that a restraint system appropriate to a child's size be used.
The bill defines a "child passenger restraint system" as an infant seat, convertible seat, booster seat, built-in safety seat or similar child passenger restraint system that complies with the federal motor vehicle safety standard applicable when it was manufactured. Infant seats are typically designed for infants weighing up to 20 pounds. Convertible seats are designed for infants and toddlers weighing up to 40 pounds. Older children, generally those over 30 pounds, would be restrained in booster seats, built-in safety seats or other similar devices designed to accommodate their larger size.
Under current law, drivers have the option of securing children under five years old but older than 18 months in either a car seat or, if the child is seated in a rear seat, a safety belt. To make the child passenger restraint system requirement uniformly applicable to all children under eight seated anywhere in the motor vehicle, the bill eliminates the driver's option of seating these children in the rear seat
with a safety belt. It also repeals section 2 of P.L.1983, c.128 (C.39:3-76.2b), which required children four years old and younger to sit in the rear when they are permitted to ride unrestrained because the number of children in the family exceeds the available seat belts in the motor vehicle.
The bill also would require drivers to ensure that children from eight to 17 years old who are seated anywhere in the motor vehicle are secured in safety seat belt systems. Drivers presently are required to ensure that all front seat passengers are secured in safety seat belt systems.
Requires drivers to secure children age seven and younger in safety seats and children age eight to 17 in seat belts.