Car accidents are a leading cause of death for children, but car seats can save lives. Unfortunately, some children are put in danger because they are in the wrong type of car seat or because their car seat has not been properly installed. California recently updated its child car seat laws, and the California Highway Patrol wants to make sure every child is fully protected.

Use the right safety seat for your child’s age and size.

On January 1, 2017, new car seat laws went into effect in California. Here’s a summary of the general requirements from the California Highway Patrol website.

  • Children under the age of two need to ride in a rear-facing car seat. An exception is made for children who weigh more than 40 pounds or are taller than 40 inches.
  • Children under the age of eight must ride in a car seat or booster seat, and they must be in the back seat.
  • Older children may need to continue using a booster seat until they are tall enough to ride safely without one, and they must use a seat belt at minimum. California law also requires teens and adults to use seat belts.

These laws provide minimum requirements, but parents also need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure that they are using an appropriate option for their child’s size.

The NHTSA recommends waiting as long as possible to graduate children to the next level, based on the manufacturer’s guidelines. Therefore, even though California law does not require rear-facing seats for children older than two, if the manufacturer’s guidelines say that a rear-facing seat is still appropriate for your child’s weight and height, you should continue using it to keep your child as safe as possible.

Make sure your child’s safety seat is installed correctly.

The NHTSA found that nearly half of child safety seats are improperly installed or otherwise misused. Incorrect installation can make a car seat less effective, which puts the child at a greater risk of death or injury if a car accident occurs.

If you need help with your car seat, contact the California Highway Patrol. You can find your local office here. Just ask for the child safety technician.

The NHTSA also provides help with car seats. Enter your location here to find a certified technician to inspect your car. You should also register your car seat to ensure you’re notified of any recalls.

As always, Dashers Insurance is your partner in safe driving. In addition to using car seats properly, keep your family safe by taking the Dashers Pledge and by carrying comprehensive California auto insurance. Want to know if you could save money on auto insurance? Get a quote here.