What is the new car seat law in California?

What is the new car seat law in California?


Children under 2 years of age should be REAR facing until they are 40 pounds OR 40 inches tall.

The leading cause of death in children 1-12 years of age is from car accidents. REAR FACING SEATS ARE THE SAFEST WAY FOR TODDLERS TO RIDE IN YOUR CAR.

The law also states that-

1. Children under age 8 must be properly buckled into a car seat or booster in the back seat.
– Children age 8 or older, or who are 4’9” or taller, 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 the belt to fit properly, they must ride in a booster or car seat.

Exemptions: A child under age 8 may ride in an appropriate restraint system in the front seat if:

• There is no rear seat.
• The rear seats are side-facing jump seats.
• The rear seats are rear-facing seats.
• The car seat or booster cannot be installed properly in the rear seat.
• All rear seats are already occupied by children seven years of age or under.
• Medical reasons require that a child cannot ride in the rear seat. Proof of the child’s medical condition may be required.
• However, a child cannot be transported in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat that is equipped with an active frontal passenger airbag.


The above plus-

1. Keep your child in a FORWARD-FACING (either a “convertible” or “combination”) car seat with a harness until he reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Many forward-facing seats must be used with a top tether.

2. A combination seat converts from a 5-point harness into a booster seat when your child is ready. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a BOOSTER SEAT and still in the back seat. BOOSTER SEATS help elevate your child so that the shoulder strap is comfortably across the chest, the lap belt stays low over the hips, and the knees bend over the seat edge. Booster seat weight limits can be as high as 120 pounds. Keep your children in a BOOSTER SEAT until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly.
Your children can properly use an adult SEAT BELT when on every trip they can stay seated and:
• Sit all the way back in the seat with their knees bending at the edge of the seat,
• Have the lap belt stay low on their hips, touching the upper thighs, and
• Have the shoulder belt cross the center of their chest and not ride on their neck or face.

4. Car Seat Installation Tips – Once a child is placed in the car seat, be sure that the harness straps are snug and can’t be pinched, that the chest clip is at armpit level, and that the car seat is tightly secured and doesn’t move more than an inch from side to side. For rear-facing car seats, the harness straps are even with or below the shoulder and when the car seat is forward-facing, the harness straps are even with or above the shoulders.

More resources are available at:
Certified Safety Technicians are available to check your car seat installation for free. For car seat questions and general information or for an inspection station near you go to or use the California directory of child passenger safety services at and click on “Who’s Got Car Seats?” to contact your local health department

Dr. Aviva Alyeshmerni, known by her patients as Dr. Vivi, graduated with honors in Biological Sciences from Stanford University in 1998. Dr. Vivi graduated from New York University’s affiliated medical school program at Tel Aviv University, Israel. After returning to the University of California, Irvine, to complete her Pediatric Residency, she spent six months working and carrying out research at the Orthopedic Surgical Hospital of Los Angeles. Since 2009, while working in Orange County, Dr. Vivi has been applying her experience in Sports Medicine as she pursues her passion for Pediatrics.