News Details

New law requires kids under 8 to ride in booster seats for safety

February 10, 2012

With the start of 2012, California has raised safety standards for children riding in cars. 

Children less than eight years of age are now required to ride buckled up in an age- and size-appropriate booster or child safety seat in the back seat of vehicles to prevent serious injuries.  Violators will face fines of up to $500 and be penalized with a point on their driver's license.

"The No. 1 killer of children in the United States is vehicle collisions.  We want to help parents best protect their children while they are traveling in vehicles," said Tracy Nachand, Solano County Health Education Specialist and Solano Car Seat Connection program coordinator.

"Vehicle seatbelts are designed to fit adults. Young children are too small and too short for these seatbelts and are vulnerable to severe injury or death if not properly secured," Nachand said.  "If the belt is across the child's waist instead of across the hips or thigh bones, he or she could suffer damage to internal organs and/or a spinal cord injury if involved in a collision."

Solano Public Health recommends a five-question checklist for safely securing a child. Can your child:

  • Sit with his/her back flat up against the vehicle seat?
  • Bend his/her knees naturally over the seat cushion edge?
  • Sit with the lap belt across his/her hip or thigh bones?
  • Sit with the shoulder belt across his/her shoulder, not crossing over the face or under the arm, or behind the back?
  • Stay seated in that position for the entire trip?
If your child cannot achieve ALL of these steps, the child needs to stay in a booster seat.  The only exception to the new law is for a child under 8 years who is taller than 4 feet, 9 inches.  Research shows that height is more telling of safety in seat belts than is the weight of the child.

Before starting your car, Solano Public Health urges parents and caregivers to remember these Five key safety points:
  • Properly secure your child on every trip, every time.
  • Keep your child in the back seat. 
  • Use the best safety seat for your child's size. 
  • Use child safety seats and belts correctly.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle for any length of time.
Solano Public Health encourages parents and caregivers to seek professional assistance to ensure their child safety and booster seats are properly installed.  According to national statistics, 90 percent of children in safety seats are not secured properly.

Solano Public Health, Solano Car Seat Connection program offers free car seat inspections throughout the county.  To make an appointment, call (707) 553-5543.