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California’s Child Car Seat Laws: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Child Car Seat Laws in California

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 14. As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure the safety of our children on the road, and one way to do that is by adhering to California’s child car seat laws.

Height and Weight Requirements

Before we delve into specific laws, let’s talk about the different types of car seats and their corresponding height and weight requirements. Rear-facing car seats are designed for infants and should be used until they reach either the height or weight limit specified by the manufacturer.

Forward-facing seats, on the other hand, are for older toddlers and preschoolers. Booster seats are typically for children aged 4-8 who weigh between 40 and 65 pounds and are under 4’9″ in height.

Finally, children who have outgrown their booster seats and can sit with their backs against the seat, knees bent over the edge, and feet touching the floor should use seat belts.

Rear-Facing Car Seat Laws

California law requires children under two years old to be in a rear-facing child safety seat unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches tall. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain in a rear-facing seat until they reach the height or weight limit of the seat, which is typically around 2-4 years old.

Convertible car seats can be used in either rear-facing or forward-facing mode, and parents should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for height and weight limits.

Forward-Facing Car Seat Laws

Children who have outgrown their rear-facing seat should use a front-facing car seat with a harness. The law requires children to use a front-facing seat until they are at least 40 inches tall or weigh at least 40 pounds.

To determine whether a child is ready to move onto a booster seat, parents should check the height and weight limits of their car seat and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Booster Seat Laws

California law requires children under the age of eight to be secured in a car or booster seat in the back seat. Children who weigh 40 or more pounds or are 4’9″ tall are exempt from this requirement, and can use a regular seat belt.

However, it is crucial to note that studies have shown that children who use booster seats in a car are 45% less likely to sustain injuries in a crash compared to children who use only a seat belt.

Front Seat Laws

California law does not allow children under the age of eight to ride in the front seat of a vehicle with active airbags unless the child is in a rear-facing car seat and the airbag is turned off. Some exemptions to this rule include medical reasons involving the child’s safety, or if the vehicle has no back seat.

However, parents should always prioritize their child’s safety and use a child safety seat in the back seat of the car to prevent any injuries.

California Car Seat Laws for Taxis

Ride-share services like Uber and Lyft are becoming increasingly popular, and many parents wonder if they can use these services with their young children. According to California law, children under six years old are required to be secured in an appropriate child safety seat, regardless of the vehicle they are traveling in, including taxis, Uber, and Lyft.

Parents can either bring their child’s car seat with them, use a ride-share service that provides car seat options, or utilize an on-demand car seat installation service.


It is imperative for parents to educate themselves on California’s child car seat laws to ensure their children’s safety on the road. By following these laws and guidelines, parents can minimize the risk of serious injury or death in the event of a car accident.

Remember to always prioritize your child’s safety, regardless of the vehicle you are traveling in. Child car seat laws in California are an essential aspect of parental responsibility to ensure children’s safety on California’s roads.

There are strict laws regarding the use of child safety seats, including rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. California law requires children under two years old to use a rear-facing car seat, and children under eight years old to use a child or booster seat in the back seat.

Children must not ride in the front seat with active airbags. Importantly, children under six years old must use appropriate child safety seats, including when traveling in taxis, ride-shares, and Ubers.

By following these laws, parents can minimize the risk of injuries or death in the event of an accident. Remember, safety always comes first when driving with children.

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