Heads up parents: Nebraska Child Restraint law changed effective Jan. 1

Heads up parents: Nebraska Child Restraint law changed effective Jan. 1

Parents: Don’t forget the Nebraska child restraint law changed effective Jan. 1.

What exactly does this mean for your kids?

» Children younger than 8 will have to use federally approved child safety seats when riding in vehicles. That extends the age requirement two years.

» Children ages 2 and younger will have to ride in rear-facing seats, unless they outgrow the weight or height requirements listed by the seat’s manufacturer.

» Finally, the law prohibits children younger than 8 from riding in a vehicle’s front seat — unless all rear seats are occupied by children or the vehicle is a standard-cab pickup.

Children between 6 and 12 are generally not ready for adult safety belts, which are designed for a 165-pound adult male, according to the group Safe Kids Lincoln-Lancaster County. Seat belts that don’t fit properly can cause internal organ damage or neck and head injuries in a crash.

The bill, passed in the spring, was the first major update of child passenger safety regulations since 2002. It brings Nebraska closer to the minimum standards recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Data from the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office show proper restraints are not used in one in every five crashes involving children. That translates to more than 100 crashes a year with improperly restrained kids.

World-Herald staff writer Joe Duggan contributed to this report.