New Law Requires Kids Up to 8 To Use Child Seat

The new law becomes effective on Jan. 1 and fines for violating it start at $475.

By Bay City News

A new child seat safety law effective Jan. 1 requires kids in California to use a booster seat in a vehicle until they are 8 years old OR at least 4-foot-9-inches tall, according to the state's Department of Public Health.

A previous state law required car seats or booster seats for kids until they were 6 years old or weighed 60 pounds.

"This new law will help protect more children from being injured during a crash," said Patrice Christensen, a registered nurse and coordinator of the San Mateo County Emergency Medical Services injury prevention program.

Kids age 8 years and older are ready to ride without a booster seat when the child can sit against the back of a vehicle seat with knees bent, without slouching and can comfortably stay in that position.

The lap belt should also be low on the hips and touch the upper thighs with the shoulder belt crossing the shoulder and chest without touching the child's face or neck.

Drivers who are caught not complying with the new state law can face fines starting at $475.

For information on the new law or for help determining if a child still needs a booster seat, call Patrice Christensen at (650) 573-3728, contact a local California Highway Patrol office or go online at www.cdph.ca.gov/vosp.

WC-Independent January 03, 2012 at 03:36 PM
So which politician is funded by a car seat corporation?
Kathleen Schoening January 03, 2012 at 07:23 PM
My daughter will turn 6 this summer and under the old law would still be in a car seat because she does not weigh 60 pounds however she is quite tall for her age. Under the new law and the rate in which she is growing she will surpass 4 foot 9 inches before she is 8 years old. She still sits in a car seat not a booster and will until she outgrowns it. Safety first. Go to a different state and there are different laws go figure.
Leah Hall January 03, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Exactly. My daughter is taller and heavier than several adult drivers we know, but she has to ride in the backseat until her birthday this summer. We both have fun imagining our state's decision making process on that particular law. She also claims that the curfew laws for 16 year old drivers are "ageist!" Me and my soulmate are fine with them though. We tell her that the only thing she will be getting on her 16th birthday is a transit pass. :)
Marga Lacabe January 03, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Actually, because weight doesn't really matter. What affects how effective a seat belt is is height, not weight.
Marga Lacabe January 03, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Kathleen, "safety first" but how do you know it's actually safer? Personally, I think it's a marriage of the nanny state with car seat manufacturers looking for more business.
Marie January 03, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Kathleen, the current law is 6 or 60 pounds, not both. So, this summer when your daughter turns 6 ( as does mine), she would have been allowed to sit without a booster. (It's 4 AND 40 to get our of a car seat harness, 6 OR 60 to get out of a booster) Although I agree that this is a bit big brother, not all parents have common sense. For example, my 8 year old daughter sits in a regular seat in most cars, but in a pick up truck she has to sit in a booster because the seat belt hits her much higher on her neck. Most parents just think that because they are 6 or 60 they are safe, and that's not the case at all. It really depends on where the seat belt hits them. So unfortunately, those parents that "get it" have to follow rules longer than they might otherwise have had to, because some parents don't get it. For me, it's not a big deal because the way I see it is kids have no idea, and they are the ones that pay the price for parents stupidity ( or lack of education on the matter). Why not protect "those" kids a bit longer? Incidentally, my girls are both very tall as well, 95% for their age. But I'd rather be safe than sorry. Who cares, a booster seat doesn't even take up nearly as much space as a car seat and kids can see a little better also, as well as have cup holders. ha ha. so many pros, not that many cons in my opinion. Safe travels!
Leah Hall January 03, 2012 at 08:31 PM
And for a little perspective, my soulmate was hit by another driver on 580 coming home from Livermore when my daughter was 3. She was properly seated in the backseat in her car seat. The car was "totaled" by our insurance company. The airbags deployed in the front seat and neither he nor my daughter were hurt in anyway. Grateful that day, let me tell you.
Leah Hall January 03, 2012 at 09:49 PM
A recent landmark report by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) says that we have fallen way behind in saving lives relative to other nations. "The lack of progress in reducing the highway casualty toll might suggest that Americans have resigned themselves to this burden of deaths and injuries as the inevitable consequence of the mobility provided by the road system. In other countries, public officials responsible for the roads have declared that this human and economic cost is neither inevitable nor acceptable and have undertaken rigorous and innovative interventions to reduce crashes and casualties." "The report didn't just detail the problems, it outlines recommendations about how the U.S. can solve it. Improved road design practices (roundabouts were mentioned a lot, as was the need to do road safety audits) and stepped up enforcement programs to gain control of speed and drunk driving were two of the key recommendations." http://bikeportland.org/2010/11/17/report-u-s-lags-way-behind-other-countries-in-reducing-traffic-deaths-42916
Leah Hall January 03, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Perhaps our car seat laws are a little more understandable in this context. Our roads aren't all that safe relatively speaking to other developed and rich nations. Either our car seat laws do save a significant amount of human lives and/or they serve somewhat as a stop gap solution to a larger sociopolitical problem in the US.
Michael Austin January 03, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Not mentioned in the report is texting and other hands on gadgets. The US is recently addressing that issue. Once the issue becomes law nation wide, perhaps driving may be safer. Also, drug usage is way up among the younger generation these days.
Leah Hall January 04, 2012 at 12:23 AM
These sound like biggies to me too, Michael. Briefly scanning the local police blotter from time to time, it looks like we have an alarming number of stoned folks of all ages on our roads. The texting and cellphone distractions? Almost goes without saying...but thank you for mentioning it!
Jodi January 04, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Well said, Marie. This is how I feel about the new law as well. It doesn't really change anything for us, my son will still ride in a booster seat until the seatbelt fits him properly. And he is likely to be in a booster seat until well-past his 8th birthday, just like his older brother was.
Andrew January 04, 2012 at 01:00 AM
We used to ride in the back of the pickup..........it did have a shell on it for safety.lol
Mom of the Horde January 04, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Vehicle seat belts were designed with average sized adults in mind, not children or petite women. They're safest for people who are 4'9" or taller, which is the minimum height they were designed for... hence the 8 years or 4'9" mentioned in the new law. My 9 year old still rides in a booster, because our vehicle seat belts don't fit her properly without it... she's 4'3"ish. Very petite. I'll let her ride booster-less when the belts fit her properly. I don't think they did it by weight this time because of the childhood obesity issue. Sadly, there are probably 80 lb 5 year olds out there...
Albert Rubio January 04, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Safety is not a proper concern of the state.
Albert Rubio January 04, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Safety is not a proper concern of the state. This kind of sustained overreaching drives the economic crisis. Conditions will not improve until this lesson is learned: "Law is solely the organization of the individual right of self-defense which existed before law was formalized. Law is justice. It is not true that the legislator has absolute power over our persons and property. The existence of persons and property preceded the existence of the legislator, and his function is only to guarantee their safety [from the violence of others]. It is not true that the function of law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our wills, our education, our opinions, our work, our trade, our talents, or our pleasures [or our SAFETY]. The function of law is to protect the free exercise of these rights, and to prevent any person from interfering with the free exercise of these same rights by any other person. Since law necessarily requires the support of force, its lawful domain is only in the areas where the use of force is necessary. This is justice." - Frederick Bastiat
Michael Allen January 05, 2012 at 10:21 PM
When I read something like that (which is completely true in this case), I laugh when I think of all the "advantages" we have now over previous generations. There was a time where to become book smart, you had to first be lucky enough to be taught how to read by your family or close friends. Now we teach it in schools, free to the public (and you MUST attend of course, it's the LAW ;) ). We have virtually the entire knowledge of humanity at our fingertips (Internet and all the ways you have to access it), no need to go to institutions to become educated. AND the entire knowledgebase is SEARCHABLE, again a first in the known universe... Yet people insist on laws being made to keep people safer, from THEMSELVES... It's this constant act of creating laws "for our own good" that helps dumb-down our friends and neighbors. What suprises me is that I hear people say all too often, "It's not against the law, so it can't be that much of a risk..." That implies that some people have actually been twisted into thinking Government knows best, and that they'll "protect" us from all harmful things. That something isn't risky if it's not banned. Common sense, making your own choices, secondary to the need to create laws to take care of the children-citizens, so says the mommy/daddy lawmakers. I think it makes them look productive to voters while not forcing them to actually work for a living. Drives me nuts.
MagnusT January 06, 2012 at 06:59 AM
First of all, Livermore PD claims credit for this ridiculously stupid statute, so direct your ire to them. Second, I remember complaining about this a couple months ago and a bunch of Livermorons jumping on my case over my dissatisfaction with further expansion of the police state. It's refreshing to finally see people waking up to what's going on.
Chuck Harding January 06, 2012 at 09:36 AM
Mandated safety engenders stupid behavior based on the flawed premise that "since I am wearing my mandatory <fill in the blank here>, I can engage in all kinds of risky behavior because I am protected. James Peef was wearing a state mandated DOT approved motorcycle helmet, for all the good it did him. People now act as if they are in their living rooms when they are driving, since the car manufacturers create such a luxurious driving experience. Yet I now carry on my person, and have in each of my cars, a rescue tool that includes a seatbelt slicer and window breaker. When I was young, the idea of wearing a helmet while riding a bike or skateboard didn't even enter our minds, yet we somehow managed to survive. My youngest siblings rode in the middle and back seats of the family station wagon which didn't have seatbelts anywhere. Go figure. What I am trying to say is that no one is any safer or more secure because of "Big Brother" poking their nose into our lives. Butt out already!!!
Chuck Harding January 06, 2012 at 09:52 AM
Those that are quoting NTSB stats on highway deaths fail to factor in the rise in the number of alien invaders from the south that have never taken driver education and driver training in this state, and in all likelyhood can't ever read the signs along the roadways, including speed limits and other cautionary notices. It was never reported if the individual that managed to land the stolen car they were driving on the roof of a house in Fresno was here illegally or not. It is very unusual for criminals to have their place of origin or other socio-economic characteristics reported on by the area news organs, but it seems likely that many of them are not familiar with the environment in which they are attempting to drive. My point is that if you didn't grow up here, you are at a disadvantage when it comes to driving safely in the Bay Area. So there is another variable in the equation regarding safe driving and state mandated behavior, in that the state never mandates that the alien invaders follow the same laws the rest of us have to follow. Big Brother/Sister IS watching.
Cory Noltensmeier January 06, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Get out of here with your illegal alien crap. You are probably one of those folks who complain of the illegals ruining our country but go down to Home Depot to exploit them for their cheap labor. The laws I think have good intentions or is it to just boost the states/ city's revenues?
Chuck Harding January 06, 2012 at 06:21 PM
No. I am not "one of those folks who complain of the illegals ruining our country but go down to Home Depot to exploit them for their cheap labor." I don't hire anyone for any reason. I do it myself. And I don't shop at Home Depot because of this: http://action.afa.net/item.aspx?id=2147496231
Triple Canopy January 06, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Illegal aliens are stealing resources that citizens and legal immigrants are entitled to.... now this screwed up state is even subsidizing illegals at the UC and State schools thereby displacing or reducing the available resources that other legitimate students should have an opportunity to obtain. These "law abiding" illegals should start off on the right foot by NOT breaking Federal law in order to enter the US. What part of "illegal" don't liberals and "undocumented immigrants" understand? They're here illegally. Period.
Jessica January 06, 2012 at 07:47 PM
I thought this article was about increasing the age to age 8 for booster seats... not illegal immigration...
Chuck Harding January 06, 2012 at 09:40 PM
I only mentioned illegals in the context of highway safety because people that come from other countries that have different requirements for driving, including training and certification, contribute to the overall decline in road conditions, because they are not familiar with the rules of the road here.I have seen and read many reports of accidents involving illegals running down someone in a crosswalk because where they come from pedestrians do *not* have the right-of-way, and traffic lights are only a suggestion.
James January 06, 2012 at 10:45 PM
$10 says Chuck is one of those "Minute Men" Wink wink. LOL
Human January 08, 2012 at 04:55 PM
James Peef needed a body helmet to save himself. Even that would have been doubtful. Compare apples to apples sir. Fleeing the cops and blowing reds into the side of an automobile while upon a motorcycle is sure death anytime. And yes, there are laws against that. They're called yielding to the police and stopping for red lights. Had he obeyed those, he'd be alive. And didn't he grow up in the Bay Area?........
Jennifer January 08, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I can't help but think that the car seat company's had a lot to do with this new law. When you call LPD of CHP to ask what type of seat you should use, their list consists of boosters and 5 point harness types that range in cost from $200-$585!!! There is more to this law than just putting a child in a booster. It has to be the correct type, if there is no shoulder belt, the child must be in a 5 point harness type seat, that will fit an 80 pound child! Those cars seats are very expensive, especially if only needed for a short time. Then there was some ridiculous part about if the middle of your child's ear goes over the seat, they need a high back booster. Pretty much be ready to spend a fortune and give the car seat company's all your money
Albert Rubio January 08, 2012 at 06:34 PM
You have a point Jennifer. This idea is what is commonly referred to as 'Crony Capitalism' and is by most people not distinguished from plain Capitalism. I personally hate the term because I suspect people do not make the distinction. In 'Crony Capitalism' the problem is NOT Capitalism = Free Trade = Liberty = Classical Liberalism = Libertarianism. The problem is Government favortism and market intervention. It is like the open state privileged monopoly grant except this is a softer form. This is another strong reason to limit the size and scope of the state. "Crony capitalism is a term describing a capitalist economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, and so forth. Crony capitalism is believed to arise when political cronyism spills over into the business world; self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals."
Nadine Young January 11, 2012 at 04:18 AM
I'm 4'9 and 62 yrs old. Does this mean one day I will have to wear a booster seat? Need to crack down on the cell phone. Kinda hard when I noticed next to me a Sheriff driving a SUV laughing while driving and talking on the cell phone!! Why are they exempt??


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »