California has one of the most specific car seat laws in the U.S. according to the California Highway Patrol. Unfortunately, many parents don’t have their car seats for their children installed correctly which can cause problems if they were to be in a collision. Additionally, many parents make the exception when they are just taking a trip around the corner or down the block and don’t require their kids to be in their seats. This can be a grave error on behalf of any parent. Accidents don’t only happen on the freeway or main roads of the city, they can happen as you are backing out of the driveway or rounding the corner to your friends house down the street.
Car Seat Facts
Newborns and babies up to 20-35 pounds should be in a rear facing seat. Infants should be in the rear facing car seat until they are at least 20 pounds. They should also be in the back seat of the car. The CHP does make exceptions for cars that don’t have a back seat.
Toddlers or children that are at least one year of age and a minimum of 20 pounds can ride in a forward facing seat. Most experts advise young toddlers be in the three point harness for the best safety in the event of an accident.
Booster seats are for children that are at least forty pounds. These type of seats should be secured with the lap and shoulder seat belt in your back seat. Make sure the seat belt is snug enough and that your child is tall enough for the shoulder part of the belt to go across the child’s collar bone and the center of their chest and not their neck.
In the State of California, children must be in a car seat or booster seat until they are six years old or over sixty pounds. The weight requirement can be the most important thing for parents to know. If you have a very slender six year old, you may want to wait until they are closer to the 60 pound mark to allow them to sit in the car without a booster seat. The reason for this is the positioning of the seat belt which can make a difference in how the seat belt holds the child in place during an accident.
According to the CHP the fines for not having your child in a car seat can be well over $400 for the first offense and sometimes parents are also required to attend parenting classes as part of the conditions of their case. The fines are per child so that can add up quickly for parents of multiple children who ignore car seat requirements in California. The car seat violation also counts as one point on your driving record and is considered a “moving violation.”
According to the website carseat.org traffic collisions are the number one cause of death and permanent injury of children.
According to the CHP “80% of the kids under age 4 killed in California would have survived if they had been properly buckled up in a safety seat”.
Parents can get assistance with properly installing their child’s car seat by using this link to the CHP website for specifics on where you can go to have your car seat checked. If you see someone driving around with their child not in a car seat, you can report them by contacting the CHP and providing a license plate number and make/model of the car.
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