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Whether you live in California or you are visiting, knowing your car seat laws is important. When you are visiting and renting a car to go around, it is important to know the safety standards and regulations that apply on child safety seats and booster seats.

California’s Car Seat Laws

Seatbelt. Any operator of a motor vehicle must wear a seatbelt at all times; needless to say, all vehicles must have functioning safety seatbelts. Children older than 8 who are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall can wear the adult seatbelt at the back seat of the car. Children younger than 8 and are under 4 feet 9 inches tall are required to use a child safety seat.

Safety seats. Infants aged 0 to 2 years must be in the back seat strapped in a rear-facing car seat, unless they weigh at least 40 lbs. and measure at least 40 inches tall.  The rear-facing arrangement is always safer, as long as your child still fits. Under California law, kids under the age of 8 must be in booster seats, strapped in properly fitted belt. It is advisable to keep children in the booster seat for as long as possible. They can use it up until they reach the maximum weight or age specified by the manufacturer. Once they graduate from the booster seat, kids must, of course, be secured with the vehicle’s seatbelt.

Positioning. The safest place to put the car seat is in the middle of the back seat, as the few extra space on both sides can be crucial in case the car is hit on the side. Children cannot legally ride the front seat until they are 8 years old and taller than 4 feet 9 inches. The law allows for some exceptions for medical reasons or unusual situations such as the car not having a backseat.

Installation. Consult the manual for the proper installation of the car seat. If it is no available, you can go to the company website.

If you are travelling in California with kids, familiarize yourself with the laws that surround car safety. Here a few options you can take:

  • Bring your own car seat. If having additional luggage is not a concern for you, this option is the most economical.
  • Rent a car seat from car rental services or independent entities. This is the most convenient option, unless the car seat does not fit your child or is not up to your standards. When reserving a car, you must already mention that you will also need a car seat with it.
  • Buy a car seat in California. The problem with this option is you can’t go around in a car to look for a store that sells car seats until you have one.
  • Commute. You can take the public transport like the bus and train, as they don’t require car seats. You can also take private buses.
  • Pre-book shuttles of taxis. You can reserve van-shuttles in advance that you can use as you go around.

Contact us at Hogan Injury for expert legal advice.

None of the content on is legal advice nor is it a replacement for advice from a certified lawyer. Please consult a legal professional for further information.

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