New child restraint law goes into effect in January

December 15, 2018

A new law in Nebraska that requires children under age 2 to ride in rear-facing car seats in the back seat and children up to age 8 be secured in a federally approved car seat or booster seat in the back seat, will go into effect in January.

The new child restraint law was brought forth as a bill (LB42) by Sen. Robert Hilkemann and signed by Gov. Pete Ricketts in April.

With the law, youths ages 8 through 17 will also have to wear seat belts in a car.

Current law requires kids up to 6 years old to be strapped into a restraint device.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children use a booster seat until they are 4-foot-9 and between ages 8 and 12. Children should ride in the back seat until they’re 13, the academy says.

Enforcement remains a secondary offense, meaning a driver or a passenger can receive a citation only after a driver has been pulled over for a primary offense, such as speeding or running a stop sign. And the fine of $25 does not change.

“It does raise the bar and gives parents and caregivers a better guideline for safely transporting their children,” Hilkemann said earlier this year.

Area residents who may have questions about the new law, or questions about inspection and installation of car seats, are encouraged to contact the Three Rivers Public Health Department at 402-727-5396.

Three Rivers has four certified child passenger safety technicians who are available for inspection and installation of car seats, by appointment, year round in both English and Spanish. The installation fee is $10.

The main goal of technicians at Three Rivers is to serve as educators and they are generally responsible for: inspection of the safety seat, instruction to the parent or caregiver on how to properly install the seat and secure the child, and deciding when it is appropriate to replace a safety seat.

Once the education is complete, the caregiver then installs the child safety seat in the vehicle with limited assistance from the technician and secures the child in the safety seat.

“Regardless of what we think we always take the seat out completely to look it over to make sure everything looks good, that there aren’t any tears or things broken,” Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Coartney DiGiorgio said. “We will make sure it’s installed properly before they leave and that the child is in there as safely as possible.”

Three Rivers also collects recalled, expired, or otherwise damaged safety seats from the community for recycling at a recycling center. New car seats are available through the department at no cost for qualified families.

More information regarding the new law, and safety facts about child restraints created by Drive Smart Nebraska, a road safety coalition composed of representatives from insurance companies, law enforcement, safety council, and hospitals, may be viewed online at drivesmartne.org/get-seatiated/.

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