California Child Car Seat Safety – What’s The Law?

California Car Seat Safety Laws

According to the CDC, car accident injuries are the leading cause of death for children ages 3-14 in the United States. Yet many of these injuries and fatalities could be prevented with better safety habits. In fact, in any given year it’s estimated that 618,000 children will ride in a vehicle without a safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt at least once. Moreover, 46% of car and booster seats were found to be misused in a way that reduced their overall effectiveness.

One ride without a safety seat or harness might seem harmless, but it only takes one accident to completely flip your world upside down. Parents sometimes make the mistake of thinking car seats are not all that important if they aren’t driving very far, but it’s an unfortunate fact that the majority of collisions occur less than a mile from home. More importantly, if your child isn’t correctly secured in the vehicle you’re not only putting them at risk, but breaking the law.

Current Laws Regarding Car Seats in California

Like many other states, California has a mandatory seat belt law which applies to all passengers, including teens who are age 16 or older. Younger children should be restrained in a car as follows:

  • Children under the age of two must ride in a rear-facing seat. An exception would be if the child weighs more than 40 pounds or is more than 40 inches tall. Height and weight specifications by the car seat manufacturer must be followed.
  • Children under the age of eight must ride in the back seat and be secured in a booster seat or car seat.
  • Children who are eight or have reached 4’9” in height must wear a safety belt and may be secured by a booster seat.

Don’t rush to move a child from a car seat to a booster seat. Riding in a booster seat offers less protection for your child in the event of an accident. Even though California law doesn’t specifically address this, it’s better to keep your child at each stage as long as possible.

Installing a Car Seat

Always read any instructions that come with a car seat and remember that the safest place for children age 12 and under is the back seat. Check the owner’s manual of your vehicle to see if there are lower anchors built into the seat that can be used to attach a car seat. Otherwise, check how to lock the seat belt around the seat. It should be secured tightly and shouldn’t be able to move more than an inch in either direction.

Adjust the recline angle on a rear-facing seat to prevent the child’s head from flopping forward. The base of the car seat should be level. Seats that face forward have an extra strap at the top called a tether strap. Tighten this strap if possible.

Placing a Child in a Car Seat

Unnecessary layers or bulky clothing should be removed so that the car seat straps will fit securely. A blanket or coat can be placed over the car seat and straps in cold weather. The child’s rear should be flush against the seat without slouching or arching. Straps should be snug but not tight, and should not have knots or twists in them.

For Assistance or Inspection of Car Seat Installation

Placing your child in a car seat is the first step to ensuring their safety, but the seat may not effectively prevent injuries if it isn’t properly installed. Just to be sure that you have installed the car seat correctly, you should have your installation checked by a certified professional. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has information which will direct you to a location where you can obtain assistance installing a car seat or have your work inspected.

If you move the car seat to a different vehicle, check the owner’s manual of that vehicle for information on installing a car seat and make sure all straps are tight.

Glendale Certified Car Seat Technicians

Pro Car Seat Safety at Glendale Adventist Medical Center

1509 Wilson Terrace

Glendale, CA 91206


Pro Car Seat Safety at Glendale Memorial Hospital

1420 S. Central Ave.

Glendale, CA 91204


Pro Car Seat Safety at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital

1812 Verdugo Blvd.

Glendale, CA 91208

If an Accident Occurs

If you are involved in a car accident and you or your child is injured, Megeredchian Law is here to help. We’ve made it our mission to provide justice for all those who are injured, regardless of the severity of injuries. Let us help you earn the compensation you deserve while you focus on healing. Contact us and one of our attorneys will get back to you promptly.

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