New safety seat law for children now in effect
As of Jan. 1 California’s new Child Safety Seat Law went into effect, requiring parents to keep their children properly buckled into a car seat or booster seat in the back seat until the age of 8. This new law does away with the “6 years or 60 pounds” rule for children traveling in a booster seat.
“Everyone must be properly buckled up as a passenger in any vehicle,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokesperson. “A driver can be fined more than $475 and get a point on his or her driving record for each child under 16 years of age who is not properly secured in their vehicle.”
California State Law requirement
Children younger than age 8 must be properly buckled into a car or booster seat in the back seat.
Children ages 8 or older may use the vehicle seat belt if it fits properly with the lap belt low on their hips, touching the upper thighs, and with the shoulder belt crossing the center of the chest. If a child is not tall enough for proper belt fit they must ride in a car seat or booster seat. Everyone in the car must be properly buckled up.
While it is important to know your state law, many gaps and inconsistencies exist. To optimize the safety of your child in a vehicle AAA recommends these best practices from birth through adolescence:
- Use a Rear-Facing Car Safety Seat from birth until age 2, or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their rear-facing convertible seat, which will be around 30 to 45 pounds.
- Use a Forward-Facing Car Safety Seat once your child is 2 years or older, or has outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their rear-facing convertible seat. It is safest to keep your child in a forward-facing seat with a harness until they reach the highest height or weight restrictions (40 to 85 pounds) of their seat.
- Use a Belt-Positioning Booster Seat once a child has outgrown the upper weight or height limit for their forward-facing harness. Children should use booster seats until they have reached 4 foot, 9 inches and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
- Use Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts once the belt fits properly. The lower (lap) portion of the belt should cross the hips or upper thighs of the child and the upper (shoulder) portion of the belt should cross the chest in front of the child. All children under age 13 should ride in the back seat.
Visit iihs.org/laws/mapchildrestraintagerequirements.aspx for more information on child seat belt laws by state.