Wolf Signs Law Requiring Child Passenger Restraint System For Children Under 2

governor tom wolfOn Monday, June 13th, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf (D) signed a bill requiring the use of a rear-facing child passenger restraint system for children under 2 years of age.

Act 43, which was previously known as Senate Bill 1152, was sponsored by Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh). Children under 2 years of age must be in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system while in a vehicle up until the child has outgrown the manufacturer specified maximum weight and limits. Wolf issued the following statement when he signed Senate Bill 1152 into law, “We have no greater responsibility as public servants than protecting our most vulnerable, including especially young children… I commend Senator Browne, Representative Schlossberg and their colleagues for their efforts to ensure children in vehicles are safer and more secure.”

Before the law was signed, children under 4 years of age had to be secured in a child passenger restraint system, but the way the seat faces was not spelled out in the law. According to Browne, several studies show that rear-facing car seats are more well equipped to protect an infant’s spine, head, and neck. Browne issued the following statement on May 23rd before Wolf signed the bill, “After hearing from health care professionals and after seeing safety studies that have shown that children under two are better protected in car accidents when they are in rear-facing car seats, it was crucial that we changed the law in Pennsylvania to better ensure the safety of young children.”

Senate Bill 1152 is the same as legislation that Representative Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh) had formerly introduced in the House. Schlossberg issued the following statement on May 23rd before the bill was signed by Wolf, “As a father of two young children, I know parents and caregivers want to be doing the right thing for their child, especially when it involves that child’s safety. The best thing we can do for our children while they are traveling with us in our vehicles is to ensure they are properly secured… Efforts such as this, which bring together both sides of the aisle and both chambers serve Pennsylvania best. I was glad to be able to work with Senator Browne to make that happen and as a result, Pennsylvania’s children will be safer.”

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommendations, infants weighing at or under 20 pounds and infants at or under 1 year of age should be in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system. According to Schlossberg, the federal guidelines suggest that rear-facing car seats should be required for infants.

Pennsylvania is now the fourth state to require a rear-facing child passenger restraint system for children under the age of 2. The other three states with such a law are New Jersey, Oklahoma, and California.

The law will be in effect in two months. A verbal warning will be issued by police for the first year. After the first year, anyone violating the law will have to pay a $125 fine.