Child Car Seat Safety - What You Need to Know

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Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury and death among children age 12 and under. Many of those injuries and fatalities could have been prevented had the parents properly secured those children in the appropriate child car seat.

 

Buckling kids in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats and seat belts reduces the risk of serious and fatal injuries. When you secure kids in a seat or belt that doesn't fit them, they're more likely to sustain damage to their liver, spleen, brain, stomach and spinal cord.

California Child Car Seat Safety Laws

California law also mandates child car seat safety. To follow the law for rear-facing car seats, remember 2-40-40:

 

• Children under age 2 must ride in a rear-facing car seat until the child weighs 40 or more pounds OR is 40 or more inches tall. Secure the child in a manner that complies with the height and weight limits specified by the car seat manufacturer.

 

• Children under age 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat.

 

• Children who are age 8 OR 4'9" inches tall or taller may be secured by a booster seat. At minimum, they require a safety belt.

 

• Children age 16 or older must wear a seat belt according to California's Mandatory Seat Belt law.

 
When is my child ready for a booster seat?

There's no exact age when a child can graduate from a car seat to a booster seat. They can get out of the car seat when they outgrow its height or weight limits, which is typically between 40 and 65 pounds. 

 

When is my child ready to stop using the booster seat?

 

Don't rush to put your child in a seat belt only. Even if your child thinks it's "for babies," insist until they reach a height and weight that suits seat belt-only use.

 

The nonprofit SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. recommends the following 5-step test to determine whether your child is ready for a seat belt:

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How do I deal with multiple booster seats?

One way to save space is to use one or more inflatable booster seats. These seats are crash-tested, meet all U.S. and European safety regulations and are lightweight.

 

Inflatable booster seats last about four years. Don't use it any longer than the manufacturer's expiration date.

More Child Car Seat Safety Tips

• Don't use a child car safety seat past its expiration date. Expiration dates ensure the technology is current, the material is not worn down to unsafe levels and the seat does its job in an accident.

 

• Make sure your child is properly fitted in his or her booster seat. Kids of booster-seat age may slump in their seat, lean forward or slide the shoulder belt to the side or behind them.

 

Before you take your kids to school or head out for a weekend road trip, make sure everyone is buckled up properly.

 

If you do get injured in a vehicle accident, get medical treatment right away. If it's serious, or the situation gets complicated, call our office for a free consultation.

 

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
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Oakland, CA 94612

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