Passenger Safety

Buckle Up!

  • Most crashes happen close to home at speeds below 35 miles per hour.
  • In a car accident, children who aren't wearing a safety belt could slam into the dashboard, smash another person, or crash through the windshield.
  • Some kids may think seat belts aren't cool. They need to learn that the coolest kids buckle up, as do astronauts, jet pilots, and race car drivers.
  • Each year, car crashes injure and kill more kids than any disease. If used properly, child safety seats and safety belts do protect children in a crash and help save lives.
    "If used properly..." What does that mean?
    Using a child safety seat correctly makes a big difference. Be sure to read, follow, and keep the directions. Use the safety seat until your child outgrows it -- up to age 4 and 40 pounds.
  • When your child weighs between 40 and 60 pounds, use a booster seat as instructed by the manufacturer.

Safe Kids table of contents

All Children Ages 12 and Under Should be Properly Restrained in a Back Seat on Every Ride. Choose and Use Correctly the Right Restraint for Your Child.

  • Infants should ride in rear-facing car seats as long as possible, until they are at least 2 years old. Keep children rear-facing to 30-35 pounds if your car seat allows.
  • Children who are at least 2 years old, weigh 20-40 pounds and can no longer ride rear-facing should ride in forward-facing car seats secured with harnesses.
  • Children more than 40 pounds should be correctly secured in belt-positioning booster seats or other appropriate child restraints until the adult lap and shoulder belts fit correctly (usually around age 8 OR when the child is about 4'9" tall).

Any Car Seat Must be Installed and Used According to the Manufacturer's Instructions and Vehicle Owner's Manual.

  • Check www.recalls.gov for car seat recalls.
  • Return the product registration forms for all new car seats to the manufacturer to ensure you will be notified of any recalls.
  • Only use a seat with all parts, instructions, and labels.
  • Check www.nhtsa.dot.gov to see if a car seat that has been in a crash passes National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's test for continued use.

Obey All Traffic Laws, Including Those for Child Restraint Use.

  • All 50 states and the District of Columbia have child occupant protection laws, which vary widely in their age requirements, exemptions, enforcement procedures and penalties. Many sates have improved their laws to require some older children to ride in booster seats, and some require children of certain ages to ride in the rear seat of a motor vehicle. Visit the California Department of Public Health website to learn about current child passenger safety laws in California.