car seat law

New Car Seat Laws: What It Means for Your Family

Echoing longtime recommendations from CHOC Children’s and the American Academy of Pediatrics, children in California are now required to ride in rear-facing car seats until age 2, under new state legislation.

As of January 1, 2017, the law extends the former requirement that children face backward until age 1. The new law does not apply to children who weigh more than 40 pounds or are 40 inches or taller.

CHOC community educators, however, continue to recommend more stringent guidelines for children and rear-facing seats. They encourage parents to keep in mind the following tips:

  • Facing the rear is the safest way for a baby or toddler to ride.
  • Keep toddlers in a rear-facing convertible car seat at least until age 2 or until they reach the maximum weight and height for their seat.
  • The harness straps should be snug and placed at or below the shoulder level.
  • Children have outgrown their current car seat when there is less than one inch of space between the top of their head and the top of the car seat.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 in the United States. According to a 2007 study in Injury Prevention, children younger than 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash when they’re riding in rear-facing car seats. They are also a major cause of permanent brain damage, epilepsy and spinal cord injuries. Many of the deaths and injuries can be prevented with the proper use of child restraints and seat belts.

CHOC child passenger safety technicians are available to answer car seat questions regarding current laws, how to select an appropriate seat for your child, and what you need to know to install and use the child restraint correctly.

For more information on child passenger safety, visit CHOC’s community education page.

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