The California Highway Patrol implemented its Child Passenger Safety program in April 1999. Thousands of employees have been trained, including CHP cadets. The CHP’s ongoing CPS program offers education and training statewide at CHP offices’ fitting stations, child safety seat check-up events, traffic safety presentations, classes and seminars.
Your child’s life depends on the car seat; that is why it is important to make sure it is properly installed. In a car, an unrestrained child is at significant risk of injury or death in the event of a traffic collision. Protect your children by using age-appropriate passenger restraint devices.
All children 8 years of age or younger must be properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat in the back seat of the vehicle. A child who is at least 8 years of age or 4 feet 9 inches in height may ride in the back seat with a lap-shoulder belt.
Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself and your passengers in a crash. It is extremely important to make sure all children riding in your car are properly secured before every trip. Thousands of children are injured or killed every year because their safety seats are not properly installed.
One of the worst days for an officer is to respond to a collision where a child is injured from not being properly restrained. Unfortunately, I hear this excuse all the time: “I was just going around the corner.” These injuries to children are avoidable; the CHP is here to help you.
For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should use the following guidelines for determining which restraint system is best suited to protect children based on age and size:
▪ For the best possible protection, keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats as long as possible. Although the law requiring children to ride in a rear-facing safety seat until age 2 does not go into effect until January 2017, it is the safest way for them to ride.
▪ When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (age 2 or at least 40 pounds or 40 inches) they should ride in a forward-facing child safety seat, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).
▪ Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in a booster seat, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lies across the hips or upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4 feet 9 inches tall). It is recommended children ride in the back seat until 13 years of age.
As a CHP community outreach officer I get a lot of questions about car seats. What if my baby’s feet touch the back of the vehicle seat? Children can bend their legs easily and will be comfortable in a rear-facing seat. Injuries to the legs are rare for children facing the rear. The main focus on protection with children is to protect their heads.
I am also asked, “What type of car seat and/or what brand do I purchase?” The type of seat your child needs depends on several things, including your child’s age and size, and the type of vehicle you have. Make sure you do all your homework on picking your child’s seat and make a good purchase.
Keep your receipt and don’t remove any information attached to the seat. If the seat does not fit properly in your vehicle or if it does not fit your child, immediately return the seat and purchase the one that does fit and protect your child.
Effective Jan. 1, children younger than the age of 2 must ride rear-facing in an appropriate child safety seat. A child who is younger than 2 years but more than 40 inches tall or more than 40 pounds is exempt from the rear-facing requirement, but must still ride in an appropriate safety seat in the back seat of the vehicle.