The California Car Seat Law changes as of January 1, 2012. The “6 years or 60 pounds” rule will no longer apply to car safety seats.
• 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 the hips, touching the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt crossing the center of the chest. If children are not tall enough for proper belt fit, they must ride in a car or booster seat.
• Everyone in the car must be properly buckled up. For each child under 16 who is not properly secured, parents (if in the car) or drivers can be fined more than $475 and get a point on their driving record.
• 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 manufacturer's instructions.
• All other passengers and drivers must wear a seat belt.
• Children up to age 8 (through age 7) 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.
Visit www.iihs.org/laws/mapchildrestraintagerequirements.aspx for more information on child seat belt laws by state.
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:
Car seats work best when they are installed correctly. Our nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians can answer your questions and check your car seat to make sure it's right. It's free and only a step away. Make an appointment today.