Young children are particularly vulnerable to injury during even minor collisions. To help you protect your family from harm, each state has a series of laws governing how young passengers travel in a vehicle. It’s very important to understand these requirements, as they can be very specific. So, we’re going to take some time and go over California’s specific set of rules with you!
If you want more information, have questions, or need to contact someone, you can always go to the California Highway Patrol website. It contains all of the laws we’ll be going over today, plus other resources.
From the CHP website:
- “Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat.
- Children who are 8 years of age OR have reached 4′ 9″ in height must be secured by a safety belt in the back seat.
- Passengers who are 16 years of age and over are subject to California’s Mandatory Seat Belt law.
- Effective January 1, 2017 – Children under 2 years of age shall ride in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds OR is 40 or more inches tall. The child shall be secured in a manner that complies with the height and weight limits specified by the manufacturer of the car seat.”
According to the CHP, most collisions occur within a mile of home. For that reason, it’s very important that you always use a safety seat when required. No trip is too short!
As the CHP mentions, it’s important to accurately measure your child’s height and weight in order to compare car seats and find the right one. Always check the manufacturer’s information and instructions for installing and using a car seat.
If you’re wondering where to find out more about the new laws in effect January 2017, here is a useful video concerning rear facing car seats for children under 2.
You can never be too careful with your most precious passengers. It is recommended that children be seated in the rear seats until 13 years of age, because unless there are special circumstances the back seat is generally the safest place for them to be.
When your child is 8 years old, legally, they can use a seatbelt instead of a car seat. However, there is a five step test you can perform to make sure they are safe to make the transition. From the CHP website:
The 5-Step Test:
1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm, resting on the collarbone?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?