San Diego Pediatrician Car Seat Safety
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San Diego Pediatrician Car Seat Safety

Published by: Dr. Rosenfeld (4)
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Researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have found that a properly installed child car seat can  reduce a child’s risk of injury during a traffic collision by as much as 59%. 
In the state of California, parents can be ticketed by police for transporting children under six years of age or fewer than 60 pounds, who are not properly restrained in the backseat  using an appropriate child car seat system.  When the parent is not present in the car, the driver can be ticketed in lieu of the parents.  A parent does not have to be driving in order to receive a ticket and multiple violations of the law can result in the issuance of more than one citation.  The California Highway Patrol has issued the following guidelines to ensure maximum child safety and compliance with state laws:Children under one year of age AND less than 20 pounds must ride rear-facing in the backseat of any vehicle in an approved rear-facing child car seat.
Children over one year AND at least 20 pounds can ride forward-facing in the back seat of any vehicle in an approved forward-facing child car seat. Children four years of age AND at least 40 pounds can ride in an approved booster seat in the back seat of any vehicle with the vehicle lap and shoulder belts worn properly.  The lap belt should fit low and tight across the hips while the shoulder belt should cross the child’s collar bone and center of chest.   
Children six years of age or older, or over 60 pounds may ride without a child car safety seat, but only in the back seat AND still must be properly restrained with a seat belt.
The law in California does allow for certain exemptions when transporting children.  When no back seat exists, when back seats are rear or side facing, when the child’s restraint system can’t be properly installed in the back seat, when the child has a medical condition that requires the child to ride in the front seat, or when every other passenger seat in the vehicle is already occupied by a child under the age of 12, then a child under six years and fewer than 60 pounds may ride in the front seat, so long as they are still restrained in an approved child car seat system.
No child under the age of one, fewer than 20 pounds, or occupying a rear-facing child restraint system can ride in the front passenger seat of a car with passenger airbags activated.  In order to legally be allowed to sit in the front seat, the vehicle must have an option to deactivate the passenger airbags.
While most jurisdictions have similar laws, certain age and weight requirements may change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  Parents who will be traveling outside of their home state are encouraged to research the laws in the areas they will be visiting to ensure they are in compliance with local car seat safety requirements.  The California Highway Patrol and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both recommend the use of child car safety seats until children reach eight years of age or a height of 4 feet 9 inches and remain in the backseat until they are twelve years of age.

The risk of collision related injuries in children drops by 33% when a child is restrained in the back seat of a vehicle rather than the front.  No matter what state laws allow, all parents are encouraged to keep their children in the back seats whenever possible.  When laws do not exist to regulate the use of child restraints, parents should refer to the manufacture warnings in their vehicle manuals to determine the safest place for their children to sit.To learn about the car seat safety requirements in your area, or to answer any additional questions you may have on this topic, please contact your local law enforcement agency.

Dr. Rosenfeld - About the Author:

Dr. Rosenfeld is a San Diego Pediatrician who has been in practice for 35 years. She is also a member of Children's Physicians Medical Group. More information about Car Seat Safety available in the site.

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