Car Seat Safety & The New California Car Seat Laws

At some point in time, every parent has engaged in a physical battle to get their kids properly buckled into a car seat … it’s a rite of passage in parenthood! But parents, never give up the battle. Proper car seat use can reduce the risk of death by up to 71%. Sure, you may be a very cautious driver, or the trip to the store is a short one. In fact, most accidents take place less than a mile from home. Don’t become complacent and always ensure your little ones are secured.

As of January 1, 2017, a new car seat law will go into effect in California.

According to the California Highway Patrol’s recent release: https://www.chp.ca.gov/programs-services/programs/child-safety-seats

“Children under 2 years of age shall ride in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds OR is 40 or more inches tall. The child shall be secured in a manner that complies with the height and weight limits specified by the manufacturer of the car seat.”

Additionally, current California law states that:

  • Children under the age of 8 years old must be secured in a car seat or booster in the back seat.
  • Children who are over the age of 8 OR at least 4’9″ in height must be secured by a safety belt.
  • All passengers aged 16 and older must abide by California’s Mandatory Seat Belt Law.

So it’s one thing to follow these laws, but it’s another to make sure your car seat is properly installed and that your child is properly buckled in. Failing to use a car seat properly could be as dangerous as not using one at all.

Parent and their child in a car seat

Statistics show that 73% of car seats aren’t installed correctly! Take the time to read the manuals of your car seat and your vehicle to make sure every piece is snug.

  • Inch Test: After installing your car seat, shake it at the base. If you can move the car seat more than an inch from side-to-side or front-to-back, you need to tighten it.
  • Pinch Test: Once your car seat is securely installed in your vehicle, place your child in it and buckle the harness. Put the chest clip at armpit level and pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you can’t pinch anything, that means the harness is at the proper tightness and your child is secure. If you can pinch something, tighten it up!

Still not sure? Check www.chp.ca.gov/find-an-office to locate your local CHP Area Office and ask to speak to a child passenger safety technician.  

Also, be wary of buying a used car seat, unless you are certain about the seat’s crash history. A car accident, even minor ones, can cause unseen damage to the car seat ,therefore reducing its ability to keep your child safe in an accident. Avoid buying a used car seat from strangers or thrift stores.

Always set a good example for your kids and make sure YOU always buckle up every time you’re in the car. Once it’s automatic for you, your kids will learn the importance of being safe in the car.

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