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New Law Changes California’s Booster Seat Rule

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Bay Area parents are being reminded of a new statewide child safety measure taking effect at the beginning of the new year.

Starting Jan. 1, 2012, children are required to be strapped into booster seats, until the age of 8. Previously, booster seats were mandated only for kids until they reached age 6 or 60 lbs., whichever came first.

“The booster seats increase their chances of surviving a crash by 45%,” reasoned Carol Powers, who runs a child passenger safety program at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. “In the world of statistics, that’s huge.”

Positioning of the lap belt is key.

“The lap belt rides on the top of the thighs and that’s because if they ever need their belt you want it to go onto the hip bone,” Powers explained.

If the belt shifts above the hip bone during an accident, a child is at risk for damage to internal organs, the spine or fatal injuries.

“I think it’s a great law,” one East Bay mom enthused. “I think kids that are not able to wear the seatbelt properly should stay in their car seat longer, even though it is 8.”

“You have to have your kids safe,” added a father.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

Violators risk a fine of more than $400, in addition to a point on their driving record.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Mark Seelig
  • Ernest Muchene

    When you are expecting a baby, one of the most important purchases you will make will be for your baby car seat. After delivery, you won’t be able to leave the hospital without showing hospital staff your car seat. Car seats are so very important for the safety of your baby, and will continue to be one of the most important pieces of safety equipment all the way until your child is a pre-teen!

    Back when many of us were babies, car seats were merely a suggestion. Today, having a child car seat is not just a suggestion, but the law. Babies are required to ride in a rear-facing car seat until at least age one–preferably older if at all possible. They should then remain in a car seat or a booster seat until age 12, and should continue to ride in the back seat for as long as possible, as it is the safest place to ride for children.

    As many parents know, it can be expensive to keep changing your child’s car seat. It is, however, one of the most important safety features you can invest in. It is the best investment in backseat safety for your little ones you can possibly get. For those who are very safety conscious, but also budget conscious, consider purchasing a Graco car seat. Many of these car seats are convertible seats, which means one child car seat can grow with your child.

    This means instead of purchasing several different models of a car seat as your child grows, you only need to purchase one. While it may initially be more expensive than other car seats, it will save you a ton of money in the long run, as well as be one of the safest car seats you can buy for your baby.

    Child car seats are a way of life for parents and children today. They are the best way to make sure you keep your child safe when traveling by car. Children are recommended to ride in a car seat in the back of a car until at least age 12, and longer if you can keep your child in the backseat for that long. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, a car seat just may be the piece of equipment that saves your child’s life if you get in an accident.

  • C Staley

    Sigh. OK, a booster’s not a big inconvenience, so we’ll keep our kids in one for another couple years. Probably worth the safety advantage, even though much of the rest of the world thinks we’re a little over the top on this.

    But, it’s gonna get really interesting making small 14-year-olds use one — not an age that takes kindly to being “babied” :). And make no mistake, that’s where we’re headed. The logic that says a large 8 year old still needs a booster can apply just as readily to a small 14-year-old. (Or a small adult!)

    • a.s.

      very true. safety is more improtant than looks or feels. ive been pleasing with my 6 year olds dughters father to put her in a booster seat. i even went as far as to buy him one to share with his grandmother. neither one of them use it. 6 or not she wasnt tall enough and its pure safety. NOW i love the fact because the law has changed back to what it should have been. i want my child to be safe and secure so HAHAHAHA to her dad. drive her around without one and jeopardize her safety and i hope you get a ticket. jerk.

  • a.s.


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