Nobody wants to experience a car accident. California is a heavily-populated state, and accidents happen there every day. Maybe you’ll experience a fender bender, but you might also have someone crash into you on the highway or at an intersection.
If you’re wearing a seatbelt, it can save your life. If you have young children in the car, then hopefully, you have them in a car seat that fits them.
In this article, we’ll look at California child car seat laws. We’ll also go over what might happen if you ignore them.
Car Accidents Frequently Hurt Children
Car accidents hurt over 97,000 children in 2018, and that number stays pretty consistent every year. If you look at the kids who die in car accidents, generally, about one-third do not wear seatbelts.
You might feel like you don’t need to put your young child in a car seat if you’re taking a quick trip to the grocery store or post office. Just because you’re not going far, though, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strap your child into the car seat. It only takes a few moments, and you’d never forgive yourself if you didn’t do it, and then a car hit your vehicle and hurt your young one.
California Child Car Seat Laws are Straightforward
California has relatively straightforward car seat laws. Say that you have a child aged two or under. They must ride in a rear-facing seat. Car accidents more often hurt anyone facing forward, so it makes sense you’ll want to get a rear-facing seat for your child.
You must keep them in that seat when you drive until they reach either 40 pounds or 40 inches tall. You can weigh and measure your child regularly to keep up with their height and weight.
You must also keep your child in a booster or car seat until they reach age seven. If a child gets to four feet and nine inches tall, or they reach age eight, you can put them in a booster seat. However, if you do not want to get a booster seat, you can have the child wear a conventional seatbelt at that point.
California’s laws also stipulate that if you have a teenager age 16 or older, they must wear a seatbelt. However, you are presumably making your teen wear a seatbelt at that age anyway, so they should have no problem remembering.
The American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations
The American Academy of Pediatrics is a well-regarded entity. Not very long ago, they changed their child seatbelt recommendations. They stated that a child should remain in a rear-facing car seat as long as they can comfortably do so.
That goes back to children in rear-facing car seats not sustaining as many serious injuries as ones where the child faces forward. If you talk to a doctor in California about this, they’ll likely agree with the policy.
You may also talk to your doctor about what car seat to get. They should have some names to give you, and perhaps some models as well.
What if You Ignore Child Car Seat Laws?
If you ignore child care seat laws in California, your child risks serious injury. Child bodies aren’t finished growing yet. If a vehicle hits you, or if you hit another car or an inanimate object, your child might suffer a broken bone. They might sustain a traumatic brain injury.
If you paralyze your child because you did not have them in the proper car seat, you’ll feel awful, but that’s probably not the end of it. You might also face child endangerment charges. The state may take your child away if they determine you acted negligently by not strapping them in.
Getting Your Child to Stay Buckled In
When you have a young child, you can buckle them into a car seat, and they’ll presumably say nothing about it. You’re the adult, and the child must do whatever you demand.
Once kids get a little older, though, you might have one who does not like to wear their seatbelt. You need to stop that behavior however possible.
Buckle your own seatbelt every time to show the child how to do it. If they ever refuse to wear a seatbelt, you can ground them or take away their privileges.
California parents can teach their kids from an early age about responsible seatbelt behavior. Doing so might save that child’s life as they get older.