Every day, at least one car accident happens along the highways or interstate roads of California. Sadly, most of them are fatal and involve children or youth. The California Highway Patrol reported that traffic collisions are still the leading cause of death and permanent injury among children, and that 80 percent of the kids under four years old may have avoided death if only they were in the proper seat.
Because of this, the state mandated specific traffic rules regarding child safety. The California infant car seat law, or Vehicle Code Section 27360, was written to protect children inside vehicles during a trip. Like other traffic rules, this one is for strict compliance, since strong law enforcement can possibly reduce injuries.
Any vehicle or truck with a child under 16 years old as a passenger, except for motorcycles or buses, should comply with this law and have a restraint system. Children are generally not allowed to seat in front and under no circumstances may they be left unrestrained.
Restraint System Requirements
Children must ride using a restraint system like a safety seat, booster or harness until they reach six years old or weigh at least 60 lbs. A booster seat is a chair with or without a headrest used to position the lap and shoulder belt on the child. They are mainly used by children who have outgrown safety seats.
In case of an emergency, children under six or weigh less than 60 lbs. may be secured with a safety belt if there are no safety seat available. But in general, safety belts should be used to restrain children who are at least six or weigh at least 60 lbs. Exemptions are physical unfitness, medical condition or size. Children weighing more than 40 lbs. may also be transported in a lap belt if there are no lap and shoulder belts at the back seat. Taxis or vehicles registered out of state are not exempted to this.
Children must always be seated at the back until they are six years old or weigh at least 60 lbs. However, if there are no forward-facing rear seat, no child restraint in the rear seat, and if all rear seats are occupied by other children, a child may sit in front. An infant riding in a rear-facing child restraint, or one who's age is less than a year, may not ride in front if there is an active passenger air bag.