What are the car seat laws in Pennsylvania?

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Things to remember...

  • American car seat laws usually have size and weight requirements
  • In Pennsylvania, some form of child safety restraint is required for children eight years old and younger
  • Violations of Pennsylvania car seat laws are primary offenses for children under four but secondary for children age four and up

State laws typically require car seats based on the age and size of a child. The specifics vary between states. Some states require car seats for children up to five years of age while other states require them until the age of eight.

Car seat laws can also have requirements based on a child’s size, including:

  • height
  • weight

Most state guidelines are in line with recommendations promulgated by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Released in 2011, the AAP currently recommends car seats for children under eight years of age and below fifty-seven inches in height.

The AAP also recommends children under two exclusively use rear-facing child seats.

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Car Seat Laws in Pennsylvania


Current Pennsylvania car seat laws are based entirely on the age of the child and do not account for height or weight at all. Here are the guidelines:

  • Children under four are required to ride in traditional car seats.
  • Those car seats must be rear facing until the age of two.
  • Children must use a federally approved booster seat from age four until the age of eight.

Penalties for Violation of Pennsylvania Car Seat Laws

Pennsylvania law sets a penalty of $150 for every violation of child seat laws but does not apply any points to a driver’s license. There are no mandatory driver’s license suspensions for additional violations of the law.

Car seat laws can be either a primary or secondary offense. Primary offenses are those serious enough that a law enforcement officer can initiate a traffic stop.

Secondary offenses are still violations of the law but must occur along with a valid primary offense for a citation to be issued.

In Pennsylvania, car seat law violations are primary for children younger than four but secondary for children four years and older.

For example, a law enforcement officer can pull over a vehicle in Pennsylvania if he notices a violation of the car seat laws even if the driver is not violating any other statute if the child is three, but cannot do so if the child is seven.

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Pennsylvania Drivers and Child Safety

Obtaining the appropriate level of car insurance coverage is a major part of keeping child travelers secure. In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to carry insurance covering medical benefits for the driver of at least $5,000.

Additionally, the policy must have bodily injury liability coverage of at least $15,000 for a single person, or $30,000 for a single accident.

A policy meeting these limits will satisfy Pennsylvania’s requirements but may not provide enough coverage for every driver’s personal needs.

Circumstances like a vehicle’s value changing can render a policy inadequate. The best practice is to review a policy every six months to determine if more competitive pricing or a change in coverage would necessitate purchasing a new policy.

The first time installing a car seat can be tricky. There are a number of free resources available for the installation and maintenance of child car seats.

These resources include a multitude of inspection stations in Pennsylvania. These car seat inspection stations have certified experts on hand to inspect a car or booster seat and make certain it is installed properly.

Keeping Kids Safe with Pennsylvania Car Seat Laws


Pennsylvania is one of the first states to adopt requirements for younger children to ride in rear-facing car seats. This requirement has the safety of the most vulnerable of children in mind.

Security for children traveling with Pennsylvania drivers also requires proper insurance coverage.

The best practice for achieving proper coverage is comparing three to four auto insurance policies before making a purchase and reviewing that policy every six months to ensure it is still adequate.

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