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Seat Belt and Sidecar Laws in New Jersey

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Laws provide that automobiles must have seat belts. Since a motorcycle is not an automobile as defined under New Jersey motor vehicle laws, theres no need to have seat belts on your scooter. But what about sidecars?

Motorcycle accident lawyer NJ Jerry Friedman explains seat belt regulations for sidecars under NJ state motor vehicle laws.

Are You Legally Required to Use a Seat Belt in New Jersey?

As far as small and young children in your sidecar, Motor Vehicle Law Section 39:3-76.2a provides that Every person operating a motor vehicle equipped with safety belts who is transporting a child under the age of eight years and weighing less than 80 pounds on roadways, streets or highways of this State, shall secure the child in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat…..in a rear seat. If there are no rear seats, the child shall be secured in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat.

This section applies to motor vehicles, which includes motorcycles, but this section applies to motor vehicles that are equipped with safety belts. As we all know, motorcycles are not equipped with safety belts and since the first section above only requires that only automobiles be equipped with safety belts, this section does not apply to motorcycles, unless your sidecar comes equipped with seat belts.

For all other children and adults in your sidecar, Motor Vehicle Law Section 39:3-76.2f provides that ….all passengers under eight years of age and weighing more than 80 pounds, and all passengers who are at least eight years of age but less than 18 years of age, and each driver and front seat passenger of a passenger automobile operated on a street or highway in this State shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt. For the purposes of this section, a”passenger automobile” includes vans, pick-up trucks, and utility vehicles, but does not mention motorcycles. And again, a motorcycle is not an automobile under New Jersey motor vehicle law.

So, the bottom line is, that if your sidecar came with or is equipped with seat belts, you are legally required to belt kids under the age of eight years and weighing less than 80 pounds.

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Laws for Seat Belt Usage

Interestingly, Motor Vehicle Law Sections 39:3-76.3 through 39:3-76.10 provide various equipment requirements and specifications for motorcycles such as handlebar height, seating, helmets, mufflers, goggles, face shields, wind screens. Even in Section 39:3-76.5 where it mentions sidecars, the law fails to mention the requirement of seat belts. Keep reading from New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer Jerry Friedman.

N.J.S.A. 39:3-76.2 Safety belts or restraining devices

No person shall sell or operate any passenger automobile manufactured after July 1, 1966, and registered in this State unless such passenger automobile is equipped with at least two sets of seat safety belts for the front seat of the passenger automobile and the anchorage units necessary for their attachment or other suitable restraining device. Such seat safety belts and anchorage units or such restraining device shall be of a type approved by the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles in the Department of Law and Public Safety, and in making any such approval the director shall be guided by the specifications of the Society of Automotive Engineers and the standards of the Federal Department of Transportation.

N.J.S.A. 39:3-76.2a. Child passenger restraint system; booster seat, use; failure to use not contributory negligence; inadmissibility in evidence.

1. Every person operating a motor vehicle, other than a school bus, equipped with safety belts who is transporting a child under the age of eight years and weighing less than 80 pounds on roadways, streets or highways of this State, shall secure the child in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat, as described in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 213, in a rear seat. If there are no rear seats, the child shall be secured in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat, as described in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 213. In no event shall failure to wear a child passenger restraint system or to use a booster seat be considered as contributory negligence, nor shall the failure to wear the child passenger restraint system be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action.

N.J.S.A. 39:3-76.2f. Seat belt usage requirements; driver’s responsibility.

2.a. Except as provided in P.L. 1983, c. 128 (C. 39:3-76.2a et al.) for children under eight years of age and weighing less than 80 pounds, all passengers under eight years of age and weighing more than 80 pounds, and all passengers who are at least eight years of age but less than 18 years of age, and each driver and front seat passenger of a passenger automobile operated on a street or highway in this State shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system as defined by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 209.

b. The driver of a passenger automobile shall secure or cause to be secured in a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system, as defined by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 209, any passenger who is at least eight years of age but less than 18 years of age.

c. All rear seat passengers 18 years of age or older of a passenger automobile operated on a street or highway in this State shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system as defined by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 209.

For the purposes of the “Passenger Automobile Seat Belt Usage Act,” the term “passenger automobile” shall include vans, pick-up trucks, and utility vehicles.

N.J.S.A 39:3-76.5. Permanent seat; passengers; seat, hand holds and footrests; helmets; method of riding; violations; penalties

a. A person operating a motorcycle shall ride only upon the permanent and regular seat attached thereto, and such operator shall not carry any other person nor shall any other person ride on a motorcycle unless such motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person, in which event a passenger may ride upon the permanent and regular seat if designed for two persons, or upon another seat firmly attached to the rear or side of the operator. A passenger shall ride astride on a motorcycle only if the feet of that passenger rest firmly upon the footrests attached to the motorcycle as required by subsection b. of this section. A passenger on a motorcycle, whether riding astride or in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle, shall wear a securely fitted helmet of a size proper for that passenger as required under section 6 of P.L. 1967, c. 237 (C. 39:3-76.7).

b. Motorcycles designed to carry more than one person shall be equipped with adequate footrests for each passenger. Seats and footrests shall be of a type approved by the director. Handholds shall be required only insofar as they are necessary to comply with federal regulations.

Contact NJ Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Jerry Friedman for a Free Consultation

If you want more information about New Jersey seat belt regulations or you were involved in or injured in a motorcycle crash relating to safety belt use, contact motorcycle accident lawyer Jerry Friedman today at 1-800-LAW-4-HOGS for a free consultation.

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