Nebraska has had laws regarding car seats on the books for many decades but they were revised in 2019 to include the following:
- All babies under the age of two must be secured in rear-facing car seats.
- Kids ages eight and under must be in either car seats or booster seats.
- Anyone eight years old and under must ride in the back seat of the vehicle.
If you break any of these Nebraska car seat laws, you can be assessed one point on your driver’s license and receive a fine of $25. In addition, it is now required that all daycare providers place each child in a vehicle in a federally approved car seat or booster seat every time they travel. Children under the age of 18 cannot ride in cargo areas and everyone in the vehicle, including the driver and all passengers, must be restrained in either car or booster seats or seatbelts the entire time that the vehicle is moving.
As with most states, the state of Nebraska has free inspection stations that allow you to have your car seats checked for free. It is highly recommended that you do this, especially if you have recently purchased your car or booster seat. A list of those stations can be found here.
Laws for Rear-Facing Car Seats
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that all babies two and under be secured in rear-facing car seats and this is what the state of Nebraska has implemented for its citizens. If you’re curious about the weight limit when it comes to these seats, you should follow the guidelines recommended by your car seat’s manufacturer. As long as you have a DOT-approved car seat that is new and not used, these guidelines will be enough to keep your baby safe.
If your baby is nearing the age of two and is taller or heavier than average, you may be able to switch to a front-facing car seat. Keep in mind that the child’s head should be at least one inch below the very top of the car seat; if this isn’t the case, you can likely switch over to a front-facing car seat. Rear-facing car seats provide the best support for a baby’s head, neck, and spine, which is why this is normally the recommendation for babies two and under.
Laws for Front-Facing Car Seats
Once a baby reaches the age of two or the weight or height recommendation mentioned in the owner’s manual, you can switch to a front-facing car seat. Front-facing car seats with a five-point harness system work the best and keep the child well protected and safe at all times. It does this by limiting the child’s movement and keeping him or her in a secured position through the entire ride.
If you prefer, you can choose a convertible car seat that goes quickly from rear-facing to front-facing. These can save you some money in the long run because you won’t have to purchase another car seat when the baby reaches two years of age. Whatever type of seat you choose, it must face the rear of the vehicle if the baby is under two and the front of the vehicle afterwards.
Laws for Booster Seats
Once a child has outgrown both a rear-facing and a front-facing car seat, it is time to move up to a booster seat, which most kids can remain in until they reach 4’9” in height. There are two types of booster seats, including:
- Full-back booster seats, which are tall enough to act as a headrest and protect the child’s neck and shoulder area
- Backless booster seats, which rely on the vehicle’s headrest to protect the child’s neck and shoulder area
What does this mean? The answer is simple. If your vehicle has no appropriate headrest to protect the child’s head and neck, you need a full-back booster seat. If it does have adequate headrests, you can instead choose a backless booster seat. Both of these seats, however, must be secured with a lap and shoulder belt, not just a lap belt. Make sure that the shoulder belt fits snugly across the child’s chest and the lap belt fits across the thighs.
In addition, if the child doesn’t fit snugly in the booster seat, it may be necessary to go back to a front-facing car seat for a while longer. If your child’s legs don’t bend comfortably over the vehicle seat, his or her feet don’t touch the floor, his or her back doesn’t fit against the back of the vehicle seat, or he or she cannot sit in this position for the entire ride, it is possible that he or she isn’t quite ready for a booster seat and there is nothing wrong with that.
Height and Weight Requirements
The only official requirement under Nebraska law regarding height and weight is the 4’9” rule, meaning that once a child reaches this height, he or she can switch from a car or booster seat to a standard adult-sized seatbelt. Other height and weight requirements are found in the instructions regarding the car seat that you’re currently using and those should always be adhered to so that your child is always as safe as possible while in a moving vehicle.
Laws for Seatbelts
Under Nebraska law, the driver and all passengers in a moving vehicle must be restrained with either car seats, booster seats, or seatbelts the entire time. In addition, children under the age of eight must be in the back seat at all times because this has been determined to be the safest place for them if an accident should occur. The state of Nebraska is also a secondary seatbelt law state, which means that the authorities cannot stop you just for a seatbelt violation but only if you are caught in another type of violation. The fine for not wearing a seatbelt is $25 but as with many laws, there are exceptions to the seatbelt and car seat laws.
If you have a disability or drive a vehicle such as a bus, post office vehicle, or taxicab, you are exempt from these laws; however, for most people, wearing a seatbelt the entire time that the vehicle is moving is the law they should follow.