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- Download Car Seat Tip Sheet
- Download Car Seat Tips for Children in Casts: English | Spanish
Car crashes are the No. 1 preventable cause of death of children and young adults. They are also a major cause of permanent brain damage, epilepsy, and spinal cord injuries. Many of the deaths and injuries can be prevented with the proper use of child restraints and seat belts.
Know the law
- Children under age 8 must be properly buckled into a car seat or booster in the back seat.
- Children age 8 or older may use the vehicle seat belt if it fits properly with the lap belt low on the hips, touching the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt crossing the center of the chest. If children are not tall enough for proper belt fit, they must ride in a booster or car seat.
- Everyone in the car must be properly buckled up. For each child younger than 16 who is not properly secured, parents (if in the car) or drivers can be fined more than $450 and get a point on their driving records.
- A child 6 years old or younger may not be left alone in a vehicle unless they are supervised by someone at least age 12. The cost of a ticket could be more than $450.
Know the stages
Stage 1: Rear-facing car seat
Facing the rear is the safest way for a baby or toddler to ride.
Keep toddlers in a rear-facing convertible car seat until age 2, or until they reach the
maximum weight and height for their seat.
The harness straps should be snug and placed at or below the shoulder level.
Stage 2: Forward-facing car seat with harness
Children should use a forward-facing car seat for as long as possible, up to the
highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer.
The harness straps should be snug and placed at or above the shoulder level.
Stage 3: Booster seat with lap-shoulder belt
All children must use a booster seat until the seat belt fits properly.
Most children need to ride in a booster seat from about age 4 until age 10-12.
Stage 4: Lap-shoulder belt
All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.
The shoulder belt must lie across the chest (not touching the neck or throat).
The lap belt must be low across the upper thighs (not touching the stomach).
Know where to get more information
CHOC Children’s Community Education Department offers free child passenger safety classes and a low cost car seat program in English and Spanish. Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians are available to answer questions and provide additional information.