Media Contact: Cynthia Harris
Emeryville, CA, January 9, 2012
Attention Parents! As of January 1, 2012, California’s new Child Safety Seat Law goes into effect. It requires parents to keep their children properly buckled into a car seat or booster seat in the back seat until the age of eight. 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 as of January 1, 2012:
Children under age 8 must be properly buckled into a car or booster seat in the back seat.
Children age 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.
Children under age 6 and 60 pounds must ride in a federally approved car seat or booster seat that is appropriate for the child's age and weight. The car seat or booster must be installed and used according to the manufacturer's instructions. All other passengers and drivers must wear a seat belt.
Children up to age 8 must be in an appropriate child safety seat or booster seat when traveling in a passenger vehicle. There is an exception to the law that states that children younger than eight are not required to be in a booster seat if they are at least 4’ 9” inches tall. At that point, they should use the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt without a booster. This is a primary enforcement law for occupants under the age of 19.
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 30-45 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’ 9” 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 www.iihs.org/laws/mapchildrestraintagerequirements.aspx for more information on child seat belt laws by state.
AAA Northern California offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to nearly 4 million members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago.