Thousands of children are injured or killed every year by improperly fastened car seats and most collisions occur within only a mile of the home. The proper use of car seats can increase children's chance of survival by 45 percent.
In 2012 child safety seat laws were updated to focus on increased height and age requirements to ensure that children are tall enough to safely wear a seat belt, before graduating from their child safety seat. Following the California car seat and seat belt laws can help protect your family, avoid fines and most importantly save lives.
Child Safety Seats Law
- Children are required to ride in a child passenger safety restraint (safety seat, booster, car bed or harness) until they are at least 8 years old or until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches.
- Children in a car seat or other restraints are required to ride in the back seat.
- Car seat must fit properly – technicians and "fitting stations" are available locally.
Certified technicians will inspect your child's car seat and show you how to properly install and use it – in most cases free of charge.
Resources for Child Safety Seat Inspections
- Seat Check at seatcheck.org – Search the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) listing of child passenger safety seat inspection locations.
Low-Cost or Free Child Safety Car Seats
A variety of community organizations provide support programs to help parents obtain a low-cost or free car seat.
Resources for Low-Cost or Free Child Car Safety Seats
- Orange County - California Chapter 4 American Academy of Pediatrics Injury and Violence Prevention at ockeepkidssafe.org – Provides a list of Orange County Child Passenger Safety Resource Guide
- Los Angeles County - SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. at carseat.org – Provides a list of Child Safety Seat Distribution Programs in Los Angeles County Safety Seats for LA County Resident
Seat Belt Law
Once children graduate from the child passenger safety restraint, they are able to wear a seatbelt along with teens and adults. Proper seat belt use is imperative for all drivers and passengers - children through elders - to help reduce the risk of highway deaths and injuries. Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent. Know how to properly wear your seat belt so you and your passengers can travel safely, while abiding by the law.
- Lower lap portion of the belt crosses the hips or upper thighs.
- Upper shoulder portion of the belt (if present) crosses the chest in front.
- Do not detach the shoulder strap or place under arm.
- Make sure there is a seat belt for each passenger.
- Make sure all passengers are properly strapped in, including children in car seats.
- Be sure to wear a seat belt after making sure all passengers are buckled up.
Click It or Ticket (CIOT)
CIOT is the seat belt enforcement campaign that helped create the highest national seat belt usage rate of 85 percent.
- In California, all drivers with unrestrained passengers ages 16 and older are subject to fines starting at $142.
- All drivers with improperly buckled or unbuckled children under the age of 16 are subject to a minimum fine of $445.
Knowing the car seat safety laws and wearing seat belts properly can reduce the risk of injury to your family this year.