Safe Routes to School Palo Alto


Car Seats

As of January 1, 2002, California has a new Child Restraint Law, requiring children to ride properly buckled up in safety or booster seats until they are at least 6 years old or weigh 60 pounds.  We also strongly recommend that children continue to use booster seats until they reach 4'9" tall (approx. 8 years old).

  • Four Key Safety Points:

    Restrain your child on every trip, every time.

    Keep your child in the back seat.

    Use the best safety restraint for your child’s size.

    Use the child safety seats and belts correctly.

What is the Proper Fit for Car Seats and Booster Seats?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has wonderful information about how to select car seats, fit them properly, and other useful car safety information. 

What is the Law?

Children must be properly buckled up in safety or booster seats until they are at least 6 years old or weigh 60 pounds.  Read New California Booster Seat Law (or in Spanish)


Continue Use of Booster Seats through 8-years old (4'9" tall)

New studies recommend that older children "should be properly restrained in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are 4’ 9” tall.”   Safety belts do not fit children correctly until they reach this size. Per the NHTSA, the safest way to transport children is to make sure that they are properly restrained and protected from injury that may be caused by improperly fitted lap/shoulder belts.


Lap/shoulder belts should also be examined to fit children properly from the ages of 8-15 as modifications may also need to be made to keep your child safe in the event of a crash.


Legislation, Anton's Law, is pending to make these changes and to require car manufacturers to modify seat belts so that they will fit 8-15 year olds better.  But don't wait for the it now.

What About the Front Passenger Seat?

Children should not ride in the front passenger seat until they are over 12 years old unless the air-bag can be disabled.


The force of a deployed airbag can injure or kill a young child even in a slow-speed crash. Children ages 12 years and younger, including infants, should never be placed in a seat in front of an airbag. Riding in the back eliminates children’s risk of such injury. 


Additional Information:


Car seat installation videos Choosing and installing a child's car seat or booster seat can be confusing. These videos from Partners for Child Passenger Safety and the information contained on this site will help you choose the right child restraint system and install it correctly.


Staying safe in the car or bus Riding in cars or school buses comes with some responsibility: You need to ride safely. Luckily, it's not hard to do. Read this site and you'll learn the rules of car and bus safety.


NHTSA Car Seat Information The Ease of Use Ratings program strives to prompt child restraint system (CRS) manufacturers to improve their products and make them easier for consumers to use. The purpose of the ratings program is to educate parents and caregivers about child safety seat features and to assist them in finding the appropriate child safety for their needs.