Car Seat Safety Information and Tips
California Law requires children to be properly secured in
the back seat in a child safety seat or booster seat until
they are 8 years old .
- Traffic collisions are the #1 preventable cause of death for children and young adults.
- Child safety seats, including booster seats, are very effective in saving children’s lives and
reducing injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes.
- National research shows that the use of child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for
infants (less than one year old) and by 54 percent for toddlers (1-4 years old) in passenger cars.
- Local statistics show more than 90 percent of children currently riding in child safety seats are
- Babies should ride in rear-facing
child safety seats in the back seat
until 2 years old.
- When children outgrow child safety seats with internal harnesses, such as convertible and
combination safety seats, either by height (ears are above the top of the seat)
or shoulders are above the top harness
slot or weight (check label on your
safety seat for maximum weight limit), they should be restrained in booster seats until they fit correctly in the adult
seat belt (see “TIPS” below for further regarding booster seats).
- A properly used booster seat should “boost” a child up so that the lap portion of the seat belt fits
low and snug across the hips and the shoulder portion of the seat belt fits across the middle of the
chest and shoulder, not against the child’s neck. A booster seat must always be used with both a
lap AND shoulder belt.
- With so many child safety seats, booster seats, seat belt systems, and vehicles on the market today,
it can be difficult to properly install and secure a child safety seat.
If you encounter problems with
installation, contact a Child Passenger
Safety Technician for assistance.
- The “best” safety seat for your child is one that fits your child, fits your vehicle, and fits your
family’s needs so that you will use it correctly each time.
- Never place a rear-facing child safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle with an active passenger
side air bag. This could cause severe injury or death to a child.
- All children age 12 and under should sit properly restrained in the back seat.
- Always read the child safety seat instructions provided with each safety seat, as well as the vehicle
owner’s manual regarding seat belts, airbags, and child restraints prior to using a child safety seat
or booster seat in a vehicle.
- A child is ready to graduate from a booster seat to the adult seat belt when the child can sit with
his or her back against the vehicle seat back cushion; knees bend over the seat edge; the lap
portion of the seat belt is low on the hips, not across the abdomen; and the shoulder portion of the
seat belt crosses the middle of the shoulder. The child has to be able to ride this way for the entire
trip (no slouching).
- Never place or allow a child to place the shoulder portion of the seat belt behind the child’s back
or under his or her arm because it eliminates the protection of the upper part of the body and
increases the risk of severe injury in a crash.
- Do not purchase a child safety seat from a yard sale or thrift store because the history of the seat is
unknown, such as whether the seat has been recalled by the manufacturer, involved in a crash, or
missing parts, labels, or other important safety information.
- Parents should have their child’s safety seat inspected by a trained, nationally certified
Passenger Safety Technician. In Stanislaus County, call the Modesto Police Department at (209)
572-9500; the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency Keep Baby Safe Program at (209) 558-5656; or the
California Highway Patrol at (209) 545-7440 for an appointment.
For further information regarding child passenger safety, go to www.nhtsa.dot.gov