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Car Seats and Seat Belts

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Car Seats and Child Safety Restraints - What is the Law?
Many times our officers are asked to clarify the law regarding children riding in a vehicle: must children be secured in a “car seat” (child passenger restraint system) or can they simply use a seat belt and harness?  The California Vehicle Code (CVC) sets forth the rules and regulations on this matter.

For Parents - CVC 27360(a):

A parent or legal guardian, when present in a motor vehicle, as defined in Section 27315, may not permit his or her child or ward to be transported upon a highway in the motor vehicle without properly securing the child or ward in a rear seat in a child passenger restraint system meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards, unless the child or ward is six years of age or older OR sixty pounds or more.

For Other Drivers - CVC 27360(b)(1):
A driver may not transport on a highway a child in a motor vehicle, as defined in Section 27315, without properly securing the child in a rear seat in a child passenger restraint system meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards, unless the child is six years of age of older OR sixty pounds or more.  This CVC subdivision does not apply to a driver if the parent or legal guardian of the child is also present in the vehicle and is not the driver.

A child under the age of six years who weighs less than sixty pounds may ride in the front seat of a motor vehicle, if properly secured in a child passenger restraint system that meets applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards, under the following circumstances:

  • There is no rear seat
  • The rear seats are side-facing jump seats
  • The rear seats are rear-facing seats
  • The child passenger restraint system cannot be installed properly in the rear seat
  • The rear seats are already occupied by children under the age of 12 years
  • Medical reasons necessitate that the child or ward not ride in the rear seat; the court may require satisfactory proof of the child’s medical condition     
A child may not ride in the front seat of a motor vehicle with an active passenger air bag if the child is one of the following:
  • Under one year of age
  • Less than 20 pounds
  • Riding in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system

We can certainly all agree that our children and those in our charge are the most precious cargo we have on board.  For more information regarding updated and concise information about child passenger restraint systems, please consult The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.

Seat Belts - What is the Law?
California law requires you to wear your seat belt to reduce injuries and death in traffic-related collisions.  CVC section 27315(a) states:

27315(d)(1) A person may not operate a vehicle on a highway unless that person and all passengers 16 years of age or over are properly restrained by a safety belt. 

27315(g) This section does not apply to a passenger or operator with a physically disabling condition or medical condition which would prevent appropriate restraint in a safety belt, if the condition is duly certified by a licensed physician, surgeon, or by a licensed chiropractor who shall state the nature of the condition, as well as the reason the restraint is inappropriate.

Seat Belt Safety
Every year across our country over 30,000 people are killed in traffic-related collisions.  These are someone’s friends and sadly, someone’s family members.  The auto industry has taken great strides over the last 30 years to provide the public with safer vehicle standards for occupants.

Like many other states, California has adopted mandatory seat belt laws in order to reduce the number of collision-related deaths and injuries.  Still some people neglect to take the time to apply or properly apply their seat belts because it’s a “hassle” or they are not seat belt safety-minded.  It may help to know what happens to the human body during a traffic collision.

As a vehicle is traveling on a highway, say at a speed of 40 miles per hour, the occupants are moving at the same speed.  When that vehicle impacts another vehicle or fixed object (e.g. wall, pole, tree), it will go from 40 to zero miles per hour almost instantaneously.  If the occupants are properly restrained with seat belt and shoulder harnesses, they will slow and stop with the vehicle.  But if the occupants are not wearing their seat belts and shoulder harnesses at the time of the collision, they will continue moving at the current speed of 40 miles per hour--towards the windshield.  They will strike the windshield in about one-twentieth of a second.  In that fraction of a second, the human brain does not have enough time to mentally process the threat, let alone allow a physical reaction to the situation.  Striking the windshield increases the likelihood of being ejected from the vehicle, increasing risks of critical injury or death.  Statistics have shown that occupants properly restrained with seat belts and shoulder harnesses face a significantly better survivability rate in a collision. 

If a professional race car driver is smart enough to know the safety aspects of being properly restrained in a racecar, why not you?

Air Bags
Air bags also help with preventing injuries in a traffic collision however, they are not a substitute for wearing your seat belt and shoulder harness.  Disconnecting your air bag system only reduces your chances of survival.