California Car and Booster Seat Laws

According to data from the CDC, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among American children. When driving with children as passengers, it’s essential that you take all precautions to keep them safe. 

You should be familiar with California’s car and booster seat laws. They’re designed to ensure the safety of small children in passenger vehicles. Car seat laws depend on the age and size of a child. Keep reading to learn what you need to know bout California’s child restraint laws.

What Does the Law Say?

Children “graduate” to booster seats when they’re old enough and tall enough. However, before they can use a booster seat, they must ride in child car seats. 

In California, the laws regarding child car seats are as follows:

  • Any child under the age of two years must ride in a rear-facing child car seat. You must ensure the seat and child have been secured in a manner that’s consistent with the manufacturer’s specifications regarding weight and height limits.
  • Any child under the age of eight must sit in a child car seat or booster seat in the backseat section of a vehicle.
  • If a child is eight years of age or is four feet and nine inches in height, they may sit in a secured booster seat. At a minimum, they must be wearing a safety belt.
  • California’s Mandatory Seat Belt law applies to all children sixteen years of age or older.

California law does not specify when a child may graduate from a five-point harness to a booster seat. 

You can typically consider allowing a child to sit in a booster seat when they’re between 40 and 65 pounds. At this point, they likely will have outgrown the weight and height limit of a child car seat. However, parents are encouraged to read the owner’s manuals of their child’s car seats to determine the best time to transition their child to a booster seat.

Do not assume that a seat belt is enough to protect your child once they outgrow their car seat. Seat belts are designed to protect the average 165-pound male. When small children wear them, they have the potential to cause injury.

Additional Tips For Keeping Children Safe in the Car

Along with adhering to California’s car and booster seat laws, you can further protect children in your vehicle by remembering the following tips:

  • Do not allow a child to ride in the front seat until they are at least 12 years of age.
  • Secure all loose items, particularly if they are heavy or sharp.
  • Never leave a young child alone in a car for any reason.
  • If a child is distracting you from the road, find a safe spot to park or pull over and address the behavior before beginning to drive again.
  • Register your child’s car seat with the manufacturer. If you don’t, the manufacturer will be unable to alert you if it recalls the car seat due to a defect.

No one likes to think about young children being harmed in car accidents. Unfortunately, children are injured or killed in motor vehicle collisions at an alarming rate. You can minimize the chances of your child being injured in a car accident by following all safety laws regarding car and booster seats.