As a driver in Nebraska, you must know the Nebraska car seat laws if you’ll have any children in your vehicle. These laws help to keep children safe and prevent you from getting a citation. Nebraska recently updated its laws, and the new rules went into effect in 2019.
However, it’s important to note that the law doesn’t always reflect experts’ recommendations for safest practices. Legislators try to strike a balance between what is safe and what can be enforced. As a result, it’s important to look beyond the law to make sure any children in your car are as safe as possible.
Read on to learn more about the car seat laws in Nebraska to make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest regulations.
Nebraska Car Seat Laws: General Information
Nebraska child seat laws state that all children between infancy and age eight must ride in a properly secured car seat or booster seat that is federally approved. Legislative Bill 42 contains the most recent amendments to Nebraska’s car seat laws. The amendment made changes to make riding in the car even safer for children.
Infant Car Seats
Infant car seats typically refer to the rear-facing base and carrier system, although there are some rear-facing seats for infants that remain in the car. If you’re using a carrier seat, your baby will ride in this seat from birth up to around 30-35 lbs, or when your baby’s head is less than an inch from the top of the seat. Be sure to check your seat’s instructions for exact limits.
Nebraska law requires that all infants ride in an appropriate, federally-approved infant seat until they reach the maximum height and weight limits as mandated by the car seat manufacturer.
Once infants grow out of an infant seat, they may move to a rear-facing seat. These seats are designed for infants that are too large for the carrier-style seats. Depending on the car seat brand, children can stay in these seats from around 30-50 lbs.
According to Legislative Bill 42, lines 26-29, children under the age of two are required to stay in a rear-facing seat until they reach the maximum height and weight capacity as designated by the car seat manufacturer.
Forward-facing seats are designed for larger toddlers who’ve outgrown their rear-facing seats. These seats still use a five-point harness system. Weight limits vary in these seats, but many can hold kids up to 65 lbs and even beyond. As usual, the child’s head should be more than an inch away from the top of the seat.
According to the booster seat laws for Nebraska, kids must be in at least a booster seat up until age eight. Booster seats are made to work with the seatbelt as a harness. They help to position kids so that the seat belt fits properly.
Kids should ride in a booster seat until they’re tall enough to use a seatbelt alone, usually when they’re around 4’9″. Most kids outgrow their booster seats between the ages of eight and 12.
Convertible Car Seats
There are many types of convertible car seats on the market. Some seats accommodate both rear- and forward-facing children. Others are made to last a child throughout their car seat use and will convert to a booster seat.
Nebraska law allows for use of these car seats, as long as they’re federally approved. They must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and children should only move up a step when they’re the appropriate height and weight.
When Can a Child Sit in the Front Seat in Nebraska?
Children under the age of eight are required to sit in the back seat in Nebraska. After age eight, children are allowed to sit in the front seat.
Penalties for Failure to Comply With Nebraska Car Seat Laws
If you’re caught violating one of Nebraska’s car seat laws, you’ll be required to pay a $25 fine. You’ll also receive one violation point on your Nebraska driving record.
Nebraska Car Seat Law Exceptions
Nebraska does have some car seat law exceptions in place to deal with extenuating circumstances.
Kids Under Eight Must Sit in the Rear
While kids under the age of eight are required to sit in the back seat, if there are younger children in the car, those children should fill the backseats first. If there are more children under the age of eight than can fit in the backseat, the oldest child may sit in the front.
In some cases, such as a health, medical, or weight issue, a doctor may decide that a child can’t ride in a car seat. In this case, you’ll need a signed approval from the doctor and should keep it in your car at all times.
If a child is riding in a car for a parade or some other type of exhibition, they’re not required to sit in a car seat. However, the parade must comply with other state and local laws.
Emergency vehicle drivers aren’t always required to follow the car seat laws. If a child is in an emergency vehicle and the situation allows them to be in the proper restraint system, then the law should be followed.
However, there are some instances where a child can’t be put in a proper car seat due to an emergency. A seat may not be available or a medical emergency may prevent the use of a seat. In this case, the driver would be exempt from any penalties.
How to Make Sure Your Car Seat Is Correctly Installed
Many parents find it challenging to install a new car seat and worry that they’re not doing it properly. While choosing the correct car seat for a child is important, the correct installation of that seat is equally important. Nebraska has taken measures to help families make sure all car seats are installed properly.
The state sponsors scheduled car seat checks throughout the year. You can take your car seat and have it inspected for proper installation and make sure that it’s the correct seat for your child. Trained car seat technicians will check and install the seat for you. They’ll even make sure your child is buckled in correctly.
What If You Can’t Afford a Car Seat?
The state of Nebraska understands that not everyone can afford the car seat they need, which can lead to unsafe situations. In an attempt to keep residents safe and keep drivers compliant with the law, Nebraska has initiatives to help low-income families get an approved car seat for their children.
In most cases, car seat check stations can apply for a grant to purchase car seats for low-income families. They can then distribute these car seats to families who qualify.
Understanding the car seat laws can help you prevent getting a fine in Nebraska. While these laws are in place to keep children safe, it’s important to remember that these laws don’t always reflect the safety suggestions of experts.
Be sure to follow these laws, but also carefully read your car seat’s instructions. Make sure your child maxes out of one type of car seat before moving to the next. Between the laws and other best practices, your child should be safe in the car.