Pennsylvania car seat laws are a little unusual in that the requirements are age-based only. There are no height or weight references or exclusions, except to state that a child must ride in a car seat or booster seat appropriate for his or her weight and height.
In Pennsylvania, infants must ride rear facing until at least age 2. Kids under 4 must ride in an appropriate child safety seat. Kids age 4 through age 7 must ride in either a safety seat or a booster seat.
All kids under 18 must to buckle up. Kids are safer in the back seat until age 13.
Pennsylvania’s child passenger safety law is primary, which means police can pull over any vehicle if they suspect a child under 8 is not properly restrained. Fines for this infraction are $75 plus court costs, but this is adjusted annually.
According to best practices by safety experts, kids are safest riding in each stage of safety seat until they reach the maximum height or weight limit for the seat. Only then should they move on to the next stage.
ALWAYS use booster seats with BOTH a shoulder belt and lap belt. Using a booster without a shoulder belt eliminates upper body protection and increases risk of severe injury.
Kids should continue to use a booster seat until an adult seat belt fits correctly, usually around 4′-9″ (57″) tall. This means a child can sit comfortably against the seat back (no slouching) with their knees bent at the seat front. The shoulder belt will cross the shoulder and chest, avoiding the neck and face. The lap belt will cross over the upper legs, not the stomach.
See the links below for more information on Pennsylvania car seat laws and booster seat laws, as well as best safety practices.
State Resources for Pennsylvania Car Seat Laws
PennDOT.gov – A simple explanation of Pennsylvania’s child passenger safety law and best safety practices. Includes information on fitting stations, loan programs, and kids with special needs.
PAkidsTravelSafe.org – A detailed explanation of Pennsylvania child restraint law, including vehicles covered and fines.
Other PAkidstravelsafe links:
- PA Car Seat Fitting Station Locations (search function by county or address)
- Find PA Certified Car Seat Techs (search function by county or address)
- Find PA Car Seat Loan Programs (search function by county or address)
PennDOT.gov – A 2 page PDF of Act 42, 2016: Summary of Pennsylvania’s Child Passenger Protection Laws
National Resources for Pennsylvania Car Seat and Booster Seat Laws
nhtsa.gov – U.S. Department of Transportation / National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website
safercar.gov – Also known as Parents Central, this is the child safety section of the safercar.gov website, published through the NHTSA. This is an awesome info packed site, so if you have general questions, definitely stop here.
iihs.org – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, child safety page
safekids.org – A global organization all about keeping kids safe, especially from preventable injuries or fatalities. Their site includes tips on car seat choice and car seat inspection events, among other things.