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Pennsylvania Child Car Seat Laws

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Accident Involving a Car Seat?

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Pennsylvania has specific laws that require the use of child car seats, depending on the age and weight of the child. As a lawyer representing children who have been injured in car accidents in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, I see too many children not being properly secured in a car seat or booster seat. It is important to understand the PA car seat laws to make sure your child is as safe as possible while in a vehicle.

Edith Pearce is an injury lawyer in Philadelphia.


Why do children need car seats and not just seat belts?

There are specific PA seat belt laws, which are aimed at the protection of adults in vehicles. This is because seat belts are designed uniquely to fit adults. They are able to disperse the impact of a car crash. A car collision, even at slower speeds, can create a force of 30 g-forces. However, wearing a seatbelt can reduce the impact of a passenger to one-fifth of the impact suffered by the body of the car. However, seat belts work by gripping the body by the strongest points in adults, the hips, shoulders, and rib cage. However, adult seat belts generally do not fit smaller children, which is why there are different PA child seat laws. Many times the lap belt crosses a child’s stomach. A seat belt that crosses a child’s stomach or neck can seriously injure the vital organs of a child.

What Are The Laws In Pennsylvania For Child Car Seats?

The PA car seat laws were updated in 2016 to be more comprehensive and to better protect children from suffering injuries while riding in vehicles. Currently, the new car seat laws in PA are as follows.


As of August 12, 2016, Pennsylvania’s new car seat law requires children under the age of 2 to be secured in a rear-facing car seat. Children must remain in a rear-facing car seat until they outgrow the seats as indicated by the manufacturer. Typically, this occurs if the child has reached 36 inches and 30 to 35 pounds according to Parents magazine, but every car seat has specific manufacturer recommendations. In fact the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend that children stay in rear-facing car seats even beyond age 2 until they have reached the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer.  Studies have shown that children are 75% less likely to die or sustain serious injury in a car accident when they are in a rear-facing car seat. Just look at the car seat label for the weight and height limits.


PA car seat laws state that any child between the ages of 4 (or 3 if they have exceeded the weight or height limits of a rear-facing car seat) and 8 must be in a booster seat. There are exceptions based on height or weight. If a child is more than 80 pounds or is 4 feet 9 inches or taller, they are not required to use a booster seat and may simply use a seat belt. The purpose of a booster seat is to allow the child to properly fit an adult seat belt (the belt sitting across the pelvis and ribcage), which seat belt spreads the force of the impact over the strongest parts of the skeleton.



Pennsylvania does have a specific PA seat beat law requiring all children ages 8 to 18 to wear a seatbelt. When can my child sit in the front seat of the car? The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recommends that children sit in the back seat and not the front seat until age 13, although sitting any child in the back is always a better option.

How Can I Make Sure My Car Seat Is Installed Correctly?

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has put together Car Seat Checks where a trained technician will check that the child safety seat is properly installed. To register and find out the locations of the car seat check go to this CHOP’s website for Car Seat Safety for Kids.

Injured In An Auto Accident?

The car seat laws in PA are established for the safety of everyone on the roads, unfortunately, accidents do still occur every day. Edith Pearce, the founder of The Pearce Law Firm is not your typical lawyer. A parent herself, she knows how difficult it is to keep your children safe when driving them to all over Philadelphia and New Jersey. She is a caring and personable attorney, who will give you advice about your automobile accident or personal injury case. We hope you don’t need us. But we are ready to help you in your time of need. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer in Philadelphia today for a free consultation:  215-557-8686.

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