Child Safety Seats

child safety seat installationBuckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself and your passengers in a crash.  It is extremely important to make sure all children riding in your car be properly secured before every trip.

Thousands of children are injured or killed every year because their child passenger safety seats are not installed properly. Remember, most collisions occur within a mile of the home - so buckle your child in a safety seat for every trip, no matter how short. 

If you're not confident of how to properly secure your child in a safety seat, contact your local CHP Area Office, and ask to speak with a child passenger safety technician. Click on this link to locate a local Area Office anywhere in California.  

California Law

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Current California Law:

  • 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. (California Vehicle Code Section 27360.)

  • ​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 may be secured by a booster seat, but at a minimum must be secured by a safety belt. (California Vehicle Code Section 27363.)

  • Passengers who are 16 years of age and over are subject to California's Mandatory Seat Belt law. 


When can a child graduate to a booster seat?

California law does not address graduation time from a five point harness to a booster seat. In the interest of safety, do not rush to move a child into a booster seat before they’re ready. Each time you “graduate” your child to the next seat, there’s a reduction in the level of protection for your child. Keep your child in each stage for as long as possible.

A child is ready for a booster seat when they have outgrown the weight or height limit of their forward-facing harnesses, which is typically between 40 and 65 pounds. Read the forward-facing car seat’s owner’s manual to determine height and weight limits, and keep your child in a harnessed seat for as long as possible.

Children at this stage are not yet ready for adult safety belts and should use belt-positioning booster seats until they are at least 4’9″ and between 8 and 12 years old. Safety belts are designed for 165-pound male adults, so it’s no wonder that research shows poorly fitting adult belts can injure children.

 

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Child Safety Guidelines

 


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 Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

At what age can my child ride in the front seat of my vehicle? At what age can my child ride in the front seat of my vehicle? <p>​California law requies all children 8 years of age or younger ride in the rear seat of a vehicle. There are special circumstances which provide exemption from the law. Your child may ride in the front seat if: </p><ul><li><p>Your vehicle has no rear seats. Rear seats are side-facing jump seats.</p></li><li><p>Child safety restraints must never be placed on side-facing vehicle seats. </p></li><li><p>The rear seats are rear-facing seats. </p></li><li><p>The child restraint system cannot be properly installed in the rear seat.</p></li><li><p>For example, your vehicle has lap belts only in the back seat, but there are lap and shoulder belts in the front seat. Your child is 5 and weighs 45 pounds and must ride in a booster seat. The booster seat must be used with a lap and shoulder belt; therefore your child may ride in the front seat. </p></li><li><p>Children under age 7 occupy all rear seats. </p></li><li><p>Medical reason (written by the pediatrician) requires that child not be restrained in the back seat. All children are safer in the back seat, ask another adult to ride with the child in the back. </p></li></ul><p>It is strongly recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that all children ride in the back seat of a vehicle until 13 years of age. </p>
How do I know if my child is ready to move from a booster seat to a seatbelt?How do I know if my child is ready to move from a booster seat to a seatbelt?<p>​California law allows for a child 8 years of age or older to use a seat belt. However, it is safer for your child to remain in a booster seat until they can complete the 5-Step Test:<br> <br>The 5-Step Test: <br>   1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat? <br>   2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat? <br>   3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm, resting on the collarbone? <br>   4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs? <br>   5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?</p>
I have a pick-up truck with no back seat. There is a driver and passenger air bag. Sometimes I have to transport my 6-month old grandson. How can I do so safely? I have a pick-up truck with no back seat. There is a driver and passenger air bag. Sometimes I have to transport my 6-month old grandson. How can I do so safely? <p>​​Your grandson must be restrained in a rear-facing restraint. A rear-facing infant must never be placed in front of an airbag. However, most pick-up trucks have an air bag on/off switch. If your truck has the switch, turn off the air bag and move the vehicle seat as far back as possible. If you cannot switch off the airbag, use a different vehicle when transporting your grandson. </p>
I have three children, one is 11 and weighs 80 pounds, the second is 4 and weighs 50 pounds, and the third is 5 months old and weighs 15 pounds. My car has two lap and shoulder belts and one lap belt in the back seat. How should I secure them? I have three children, one is 11 and weighs 80 pounds, the second is 4 and weighs 50 pounds, and the third is 5 months old and weighs 15 pounds. My car has two lap and shoulder belts and one lap belt in the back seat. How should I secure them? <p>​​According to California law, the 11-year-old can ride in the front seat. However, the back seat is the safest place for all children, so place them all in the back. The 11-year-old needs the lap and shoulder belt. The 4-year-old needs a booster seat used with a lap and shoulder belt. The 5-month-old needs to be in a rear facing restraint, which can be placed in the middle seating position of the rear seat and secured with the lap belt. </p>
I lost my car seat instructions. How do I replace them? I lost my car seat instructions. How do I replace them? <p>​Most manufactures provide instructions on their websites.​ Instructions can also be obtained by phone or written mail requests from the manufacturer. </p>
What if my car has side-impact air bags in the rear seat? What if my car has side-impact air bags in the rear seat? <p>​​A side-impact air bag inflates only a few inches toward the passenger. In a crash, it can prevent serious head or chest injury. It should not harm a child properly buckled up in a car seat or seat belt. However, it might injure someone leaning against the door. If your car has side-impact air bags, make sure no one leans against the door. Refer to your vehicle's owner's manual for recommendations that apply to your vehicle regarding children and side-impact air bags. </p>
Where can I get my child's car seat or other restraint inspected to make sure it's being used properly? Where can I get my child's car seat or other restraint inspected to make sure it's being used properly? <p>​​There are many nationally certified child passenger safety technicians throughout California. Check with your local CHP office or local health department to find a technician or "fitting station" near you. You can also log on to the <a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/">National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA)</a> website to find a fitting station. </p>
Where can I report a safety-related defect in my car or my child's car seat? Where can I report a safety-related defect in my car or my child's car seat? <p>​Call the United States Department of Transportation's Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236 or visit the <a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/">National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's</a> website. </p>

 

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