Child Passenger Safety Program

Child Passenger Safety

Merced County Department of Public Health offers monthly Child Passenger Safety Classes in English and Spanish. Reservations are required to attend these classes.

Program Objectives

  • Decrease child automobile deaths
  • Increase the use of child safety seats
  • Decrease misuse of child safety seats
  • Decrease fatal and non-fatal injuries to children ages birth to five

Important Changes to Car Seat Safety

Effective January 1, 2013, AB 1452 requires hospitals, clinics and birthing centers, at the time of the discharge of a child under eight years of age, to provide and discuss with parents/caregivers contact information to direct them to an Internet Web site or other contact that could provide, at no cost or low cost, information and assistance relating to child passenger restraint system requirements, installation and inspection.

The California Department of Public Health’s Vehicle Occupant Safety Program (VOSP) provides users with AB 1452 resources. Parent Brochures and current California Car Seat law fact sheets in English and Spanish are downloadable here.

Call 1-866-SEAT-CHECK or visit the NHTSA website to find a nearby location for a car seat inspection and assistance with car seat installation. Choose your state and type your zip code in the Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator Inspection Locator.

What is current California’s Car Safety Seat Law?

Effective January 01, 2012 children under age 8 must be properly buckled into a car seat or booster seat in the back seat of your vehicle. In addition, children age eight or older who are not tall enough for the seat belt to fit properly (at least 4 foot 9 inches tall) must ride in a booster or car seat. The previous law required that children remain in a booster seat until the age of six or until they weighed sixty pounds. There is no weight limit in the current law.

Why is Car Seat law necessary?

This law increases a child’s chance of surviving a crash by 45 percent and is expected to impact more than 1.1 million California children.

Using car seats, booster seats and safety belts the right way on every ride - lap belt low on the hips, touching the upper thighs and the shoulder belt crossing the center of the chest – saves lives.

A booster seat simply “boosts” the child up in order to make the adult-sized belt safely fit a child-sized body.

If the belt crosses the child's stomach instead of the hip bones, the child risks damage to internal organs and/or a spinal cord injury if involved in a collision.

What are the fines?

For each child under 16 years of age who is not properly secured, parents (if in the car) or the driver can be fined a minimum of $500 and a point is added to their driving record.

Complying with the law should be inexpensive; violating this law carries steep fines.

Most children impacted by the law can remain in the booster seat they already have. If it is necessary to buy a new one, low back boosters can be purchased at major retailers for 15 to 20 dollars each.