California Vehicle Code requires children to be secured in an appropriate child passenger restraint (safety seat or booster seat) in the back seat of a vehicle, until they are at least 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall.
The current California Law requires Law Enforcement to cite the parent/guardian for EACH child who is not properly and legally restrained by appropriate safety equipment.
California law does not address graduating time from a five-point harness to a booster seat. In the interest of safety, do not rush to move a child into a booster seat before they're ready. Each time you "graduate" your child to the next seat, there's a reduction in the level of protection for your child. Keep your child in each stage for as long as possible.
A child is ready for a booster seat when they have outgrown the weight or height limit of their forward-facing harness, which is typically between 40 and 65 pounds. Read the forward-facing car seat's owner's manual to determine the height and weight limits, and keep your child in a harnessed seat for as long as possible.
Children at this stage are not yet ready for adult safety belts and should use belt-positioning booster seats until they are at least 4'9" and between 8 and 12 years old. Safety belts are designed for 165-pound male adults, so it's no wonder that research shows poorly fitting adult belts can injure children.
During 2006, a total of 1,537 children from birth through age 15 were killed in passenger vehicle crashes. Approximately 50 percent of passenger vehicle occupants in this age group were unrestrained. The breakdown by age group was:
If 100 percent of motor vehicle occupants younger than age 5 had been protected by child safety seats, an estimated 518 lives (an additional 98 lives) could have been saved in 2006.
From 1975 through 2008, an estimated 8,959 lives were saved by the use of child restraints (child safety seats or adult belts).
For additional information regarding current child restraint laws, visit one of the web sites listed below.
This City of Stockton web page last reviewed on --- 5/22/2018