Child Passenger Safety Program

Is My Car Seat Installed Properly?

If you have questions regarding the proper installation and use of child passenger safety seats or would like to set up an appointment to have your child safety seat checked, please contact a technician on this list of Car Seat Collaborative agencies from Buckle Up Napa Valley Passenger Safety Collaborative

California Child Passenger Safety Laws 

Child in Booster SeatEvery state in the US has its own laws regarding child safety. Most require you to use some sort of a child restraint system such as special seats with protective seat belts, and the position and features of such seats is often closely regulated by various laws.

The bullet points below contain pertinent information from California child passenger safety laws:

  • Children under age 8 and under 4 feet and 9 inches must be properly secured in a federally approved child restraint system (child safety seat).
  • All other children age 8 to 16 or over 4 feet and 9 inches must be secured by a seat belt
  • Children under age of 8 must be restrained in a child passenger restraint system (child safety seat or booster) in the rear or back seat.
  • California law specifically requires children to be properly restrained, meaning the lap belt is low on the hips, touching the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt is crossing the center of the chest.
  • Children in rear-facing car seats may not ride in front if there is an active front passenger seat airbag.

Since January 1st, 2017 parents, legal guardians, or drivers who transport children under 2 years of age are also required to secure the child in a rear-facing restraining system, unless the child weighs over 40 pounds or is over 40 inches tall.

As per California Seat Belt Laws for adults, all car passengers 16 years or older must be fastened with seat belts or safety belts while on public highways.

Five Point Safety Test for Proper Safety Belt Use

  1. Is the child's back against the vehicle seat?
  2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably over the front edge of the auto seat?
  3. Does the lap belt fit low on the hips, touching the thighs?
  4. Does the shoulder belt fit securely and comfortably between the neck and shoulder?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the entire trip?

If the answer to any of the test questions is no, the child is not ready to be safely transported in the seat belt only and should continue to ride in a booster or other appropriate child safety seat.

Remember These Important Safety Points

  • The back seat is the safest place for all passengers, especially for children under 13 years.
  • Airbags and children do not mix! Never, under any circumstances, put a rear-facing seat in front of an active airbag.
  • Keep babies rear-facing to at least one year and 20 pounds. Many convertible seats can be used rear-facing up to 33 or 35 pounds, which is much safer for the toddler, in the event of a crash.

Child Passenger Safety Subcommittee of Safe Kids Napa Valley

Buckle Up Napa Valley Passenger Safety Collaborative is a local group with the mission to reduce motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries among children in Napa County, through public education, advocacy, and child passenger safety programs and services. Buckle Up Napa Valley Passenger Safety Collaborative serves affiliate agencies, departments, hospitals, family service organizations, health and childcare providers, and other professionals and individuals. For more information about Buckle Up Napa Valley Passenger Safety Collaborative, please call Vivian Casillas at (707) 251-2017.

More Information on Child Passenger Safety

  • Child Safety Seats - In California: Answers from the California Highway Patrol about California Child Passenger Safety Law. 
  • "Child Safety" Website: Provides information and resources about buying your child's car seat, deciding whether to let your kids walk to school or take the bus, handing the car keys over to your teenager, or assessing how safe your car is.
  • Car Seat Basics: California Department of Public Health Vehicle Occupant Safety Program; information on car seat basics, laws and regulations, training courses and injury data. 
  • Safe Kids: A national and worldwide organization dedicated to reducing and preventing unintentional childhood injuries and deaths.
  • Child Car Seat Safety: Resources on child passenger safety and instructional videos.
  • Car Seat Information: Answers the questions: Is your car seat safe? Has it been recalled? What is the proper way to install a car seat? Also has printable handouts for parents and caregivers.