A new child passenger safety law will go into effect on January 1, 2012, requiring that all children be properly secured in a car seat or booster seat that meets federal safety standards until the age of 8, and in the back seat. Previously, the law required that a child remain in a booster seat until the age of 6 or until they reached 60 pounds.
Thank you to SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. and Buckle Up Orange County for providing us with the following information:
Effective January 1, 2012
- Children under age 8 must be properly buckled into a car seat or booster 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 booster or car 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 records.
Most kids need to ride in a booster seat until age 10 to 12.
If your child isn’t using a booster, try the simple test below the next time you ride together in the car. You may find that your child is not yet ready to use a safety belt without a booster.
The 5-Step Test
- Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
- Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
- Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
- Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
- Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to make both the shoulder belt and the lap belt fit right for the best crash protection. Your child will be more comfortable, too.
For best protection, all children should ride in the back seat. It’s twice as safe as the front!
For a list of programs with low-cost car seats, call your local health department at 714-834-3059.
For other information: SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. www.carseat.org 800-745-SAFE (English) 800-747-SANO (Spanish)
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Click here for a printable version that includes the California Buckle-Up Laws for Parents-English Version
Click here for a printable version that includes the California Buckle-Up Laws for Parents-Spanish Version