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Child Car Seat Safety

In California, automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for children 4-16 years old. A survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that nearly 80% of child restraints are not properly used.

Certified child passenger safety technicians are able to help you and double check your installation. 

California law requires children under 8 years of age or under 4’ 9” in height to be secured in a rear seat in a child passenger restraint system. All children under 8 years of age must be appropriately restrained in the back seat unless there are no other available seating positions.

A child may ride in the front only under one of the following conditions:

  • the vehicle has no rear seats;
  • a child restraint system cannot properly be installed in the rear seat;
  • all rear seats are already occupied by children under the age of 12 years;
  • a medical reason requires the child to ride in the front seat;
  • the vehicle has rear-facing back seats or side-facing jump seats.

Never place a child in a safety seat or booster seat in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with a passenger air bag unless the car is equipped with an airbag-off switch for this purpose.

Child safety seats must never be placed in side-facing vehicle seats.

California Auto Insurance and Child Safety Seats Law 

By law, insurance must cover the replacement of a child passenger restraint system that was in use by a child during an accident. It is illegal to sell a child passenger restraint system that was in use by a child during an accident.

Booster Seats

Children age 8 and 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. Children who are not tall enough for proper fit must ride in a booster or car seat.

The 5-Step Test

  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the seat?
  2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  5. 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 ride safely in a vehicle.

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