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'Outdated' NY Car Seat Laws Put Kids At Risk, AAA Says

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, who represents parts of Northern Westchester and Putnam, has introduced legislation that would require passengers under 2 years old be put into a rear-facing car seat in New York.
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, who represents parts of Northern Westchester and Putnam, has introduced legislation that would require passengers under 2 years old be put into a rear-facing car seat in New York. Photo Credit: nyassembly.gov

“Outdated” car seat laws in New York are “putting young children at risk of injury,” according to a new analysis by AAA New York State.

From 2011-2015, a 1-year-old child was injured in a traffic crash in New York once per day, on average – the equivalent to 1,896 injuries over the five-year-period.

“Far too often, the victims of dangerous driving are infants and toddlers,” said Alec Slatky, Legislative Analyst for AAA New York State. “Policymakers must ensure that laws are in place to protect the most vulnerable passengers.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years old. AAA said 1-year-olds are five times more likely to be seriously injured in a crash if they ride in a forward-facing seat than if they ride in a rear-facing seat. But most 1-year-olds are “prematurely graduated” to forward-facing seats, and New York law requires children to be in a car seat until they are 4 years old without distinguishing between rear-facing and forward-facing seats.

“Children should ride rear-facing as long as safely possible, and at least until age 2,” said Slatky. “It’s time for New York’s vehicle and traffic law to catch up to current best practices.”

Assemblymember Sandy Galef, who represents parts of Northern Westchester and Putnam, recently introduced legislation that would require rear-seat passengers under two years old to be restrained in a rear-facing car seat until they exceed the weight or height limit of the seat as set by the manufacturer. AAA strongly supports this proposal.

New York drivers favor such a law as well. In a recent AAA survey, 63 percent of respondents supported a rear-facing car seat law, while only 13 percent opposed it.

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