The purpose of this circular is to provide information to Department personnel and community members that will enhance their knowledge and awareness of traffic enforcement and traffic safety issues. The information in this circular can be used for crime prevention meetings, community presentations, and enforcement efforts. The emphasis this month is on Child Passenger Safety and Seat Belts in honor of America Buckles-Up Children Mobilization Month, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Nationally, traffic collisions are the leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 14 and the results are staggering; more than 500 are killed and 95,000 are injured annually. Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented if the children were properly restrained in seat belts or child safety seats. When children outgrow forward-facing child safety seats, they need to be restrained in belt-positioning booster seats until they are big enough to fit properly in an adult seat belt.
Things to remember when transporting children or using child safety/booster seats in a vehicle:
All children ages 12 and under should sit in the back seat properly restrained. The rear seat is the safest place for children.
Never use pillows, books, or towels to boost the height of a child. They can slide around and increase the likelihood of injury.
Make sure everyone is buckled up correctly. Infants and very young children should be in child safety seats. Young children should be correctly buckled using a booster seat.
Read the instructions for the child safety or booster seat and your vehicle owner’s manual before installation. If the vehicle has only lap belts in the back seat, consider having shoulder belts installed by a dealer or repair facility. Most vehicle manufacturers offer retrofit shoulder belt kits for this purpose.
After installing a child safety or booster seat, do not forget to test for a snug and secure fit. Properly fitting lap and shoulder belts reduce the risk for belt-induced injuries, which can occur when lap or lap/shoulder belts are a small child’s only restraint.
Always fill out and mail the registration card that comes with the safety/booster seat so notifications can be made in case of a recall.
Effective January 1, 2002, California’s new booster seat law mandates children be secured in a child safety or booster seat until they are six years of age or weigh 60 pounds. The new law is meant to close the safety gap for children who have outgrown infant car seats, but are not big enough to be protected by adult safety belts. Booster seats are required by law to comply with the same standards and guidelines as child safety seats. When buying a booster seat, make sure it has a label stating the child restraint system conforms to all applicable United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Never use a booster seat that has been in a crash. The seat may have defects that are not visible.
Violation of this new law, which involves the following sections in the California Vehicle Code (CVC), will bring fines of $100 for a first offense and $250 thereafter:
27360(a) CVC - A child transported in a vehicle, by a parent or legal guardian, shall be in a passenger restraint system unless the child is either six years of age or older, OR weighs 60 pounds or more.
Note: If the parent or legal guardian is not present, the driver of the vehicle should be cited for 27360(b) CVC.
27360.5(a) CVC - A child transported in a vehicle, by a parent or legal guardian, who weighs more than 60 pounds, OR who is between six and less than 16 years of age, shall use a safety belt or be in a passenger restraint system.
Note: If the parent or legal guardian is not present, the driver of the vehicle should be cited for 27360.5(b) CVC.
OFFICER & COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITIES
It is the responsibility of every uniformed officer to enforce violations of the California Vehicle Code, educate citizens on the importance of traffic safety and make every effort to protect drivers on City streets. These efforts, combined with the participation and cooperation of the community will help ensure the safety of motorists throughout the City.