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Crime Prevention: Traffic Safety Tip for February

"Child Passenger Safety"


The purpose of this circular is to provide information to Department personnel and community members in order to 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 in honor of National Child Passenger Safety Week - February 17 to 23, 2002, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).


Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 14 and the results are staggering; more than 500 children 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.

Proper Child Safety Seat Use Chart





Birth to 1 year old and
up to 22 lbs.

Over 1 year old and
22 to 40 lbs.

Over 40 lbs. up to 80 lbs., some up to 102 lbs., not recommended for under age three


Infant only or convertible rear facing

Convertible / Forward-facing or combination child seat boosters

Belt positioning booster seat, high back or low back with no harness


Rear-facing only




Children up to 1 year old and up to 22 lbs. are in rear-facing seats.

Harness straps at or below shoulder level. Some convertible seats are certified to use rear facing up to 30 lbs.

Harness straps should be at or above shoulders.

Most seats require top slot for forward-facing, recommend five point harness, not tray shield

Belt positioning booster seats must be used with both lap and shoulder belt.

Make sure the lap belt fits low and tight across the lap/upper thigh area and the shoulder belt fits snug crossing the chest and shoulder to avoid abdominal injuries


All children age 12 and under should ride in the back seat

Which Child Safety Seat is the Best?

The best child safety seat is the one that fits your child, fits your car, and fits the needs of your family. Using a child safety seat correctly makes a big difference. A safety seat may not protect your child in a crash if it is not used correctly and installed properly in your vehicle. Always read the child seat use and installation instruction manual, and your vehicle owner’s manual seat belt and child seat installation section. Now, take a minute to Check To Be Sure.

Infants, from birth to age one, and under 22 pounds should ride in the back seat in a rear facing safety seat.

  • The seat’s harness straps should be at or below the infant’s shoulders.
  • Harness straps should fit snugly. If you can pinch the fabric of the straps together, the straps need to be tighten.
  • The harness chest clip should be placed at the infant’s armpit level. This keeps the harness straps positioned properly.
  • Infants weighing 22 pounds or more before one year should ride in a safety seat rated for heavier infants (some convertible seats are rated up to 30 pounds rear facing).

Children over one year and at least 22 pounds may ride forward facing in the back seat. Children should ride in a safety seat with full harness until they weigh 40 pounds.

  • Harness straps should be at or above child’s shoulders.
  • Harness straps should be threaded through the top slots, in most cases.
  • Harness should be snug, so you can not pinch the fabric together.
  • Harness chest clip should be at the child’s armpit level, which helps keep the harness straps positioned properly on the child’s shoulders.

Children between 40-60 pounds should ride in the back seat in a belt-positioning booster seat, which uses the adult lap and shoulder belt.

  • Belt-positioning boosters can only be used with both the lap and shoulder belt across the child. The shoulder belt should be snug against the child’s chest, resting across the collarbone. The lap belt should lay low across the child’s upper thigh area.
  • Boosters should be used until a child is at least 6 years or 60 pounds, and can sit all the way back in the seat (1) with their knees bent at the edge of the seat, (2) with the lap belts on top of their thighs, and (3) with shoulder belt centered on shoulder and chest.

NOTE: The graphics were the courtesy of the Transportation Safety Training Center, Virginia Commonwealth University. Additionally, the above information is available from your State Highway Safety Office or NHTSA Headquarters, Traffic Safety Programs, ATTN: NTS-12, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590; (202) 366-2708.

California’s Child Passenger Restraint Laws

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.

  • Section 27360 CVC (child safety seat or booster seat) was amended. The old requirements mandated that children under four years of age or weighing less than 40 pounds were to be restrained in child safety or booster seats. The amended law now requires a child transported in a vehicle shall be in a passenger restraint system unless the child is either six years of age or older, or weighs 60 pounds or more.
  • Section 27360.5 CVC was also amended. The law now requires that a child transported in a vehicle 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 which meets applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.
  • Additionally, Section 27363 CVC provides that a child under one year of age may be transported in an emergency vehicle in the case of a life-threatening emergency without a child restraint system.


The four traffic divisions of the Los Angeles Police Department have developed the following Department strategies to help educate and enforce California’s child passenger safety laws:

  • Educate officers on child laws,
  • Enforce child passenger laws through special task forces, E-cars, and O and P Details,
  • Public Service Announcements in English and Spanish,
  • Inclusion of child passenger safety in school education programs,
  • Educate and train officers on proper installation of child seats,
  • Conduct child seat checkups, checkpoints, and roving checkpoints,
  • Conduct child seat workshops for parents,
  • Pass-out child seat information at upcoming Traffic Summits, and
  • Inclusion of the Traffic Education and Enforcement Circular on the Department website.


It is the responsibility of all drivers and pedestrians to observe all traffic laws as described in the California Vehicle Code; and the daily mission of uniformed officers to ensure the safe movement of traffic and to enforce the traffic laws. These combined efforts will help ensure the safety of motorists throughout the City.