Car Seat Safety

Information by Safe Kids

  • Ultimate Car Seat Guide – This interactive tool provides expert guidance to parents on everything from how to fit a child into a car seat to how to know when it is time to move to a new type of seat.
  • Live Assistance from Manufacturer Product Specialists – While Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technician programs and inspections are less available now, manufacturers are “essential” and continue to help parents use their car seats correctly. This compilation lists customer service phone numbers, websites, hours and video assistance opportunities.
  • Phone Call with Your Local Safe Kids Coalition – Many local Safe Kids coalitions have certified child passenger safety technicians who are available to answer your specific questions over the phone. Find a coalition near you.
  • Car Seat Cleaning Tips for COVID-19 – During a time when we are all focused on keeping things sanitary, families can access the latest information from their car seat manual or by contacting their car seat manufacturer.
  • Interactive Map of State Law Requirements - Car seats, booster seats and seat belts are required in all states and territories, and laws specify how children must be protected by properly used car seats, booster seats or seat belts.
  • Heatstroke Prevention Tips – In the past two years, more than 100 children died of heatstroke because they were alone or became trapped in a hot car. During COVID-19, be especially careful to avoid this type of tragedy by reviewing these tips.

See all Safe Kids press releases about new resources for parents to keep kids safe in cars during COVID-19.

California Car Seat Laws

  • All children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat.
  • All children under 2 years old -- unless they weigh 40 or more pounds or are more than 40 inches tall – must ride in a rear-facing car seat.
  • Children who are 8 years of age or 4’9” or taller may use a booster seat.
  • Children over 8 years of age must wear a seat belt.

Resources on Car Seat Information and Installation

Keeping Kids Safe

Annually, several hundred children under the age of 13 die in car crashes in the United States. Tens of thousands more suffer injuries including permanent brain damage and spinal cord harm. Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 5 and 14, yet many deaths and injuries could be prevented by making sure children are properly restrained with seat belts or child-safety seats.

Be a good role model! Always buckle-up. And remember:

  • Use a car seat, booster seat or seat belt for every trip, no matter how short.
  • The back seat is the safest place for your young child. All children aged 12 and under should sit in the back seat, in safety seats or boosters.
  • It is safest for very young children to stay in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, at least until age 2, and until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat. This helps support the child’s head, neck and spine.
  • Similarly, children who have graduated to a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness should use that seat as long as possible. Many seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds or more.
  • Never place a rear-facing seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has an active front passenger airbag. If the airbag inflates, it will hit the back of the car safety seat and could cause serious injury or death.
  • After buckling up your child, make sure to test for a snug and secure fit.
  • Always use proper car seats or boosters – never pillows, books or towels, which can slide around and increase the chance of injuries.
  • When buying a car-seat or booster, make sure the label says it conforms to U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
  • Never use a booster seat that has been in a crash. The seat may have defects that are not visible. Also avoid using seats that are more than ten years old. Safety standards may have changed.
  • Even in winter, avoid putting your baby or child in a car-seat while wearing bulky clothing, since that can compress in a crash and leave the straps too loose, resulting in injuries. You can always put a coat or blanket around the child over the harness straps if necessary.
  • Read the instructions for the child safety or booster seat before installing them. If the vehicle has only lap belts in the back seat, consider having shoulder belts installed by a dealer or repair shop.
  • Remember to fill out and mail the registration card that comes with the safety or booster seat so you will be notified in case of a recall.