The state of California introduced a new law requiring infant car seats to be rear-facing until the child is 2 years of age or 40 pounds. The law went into effect on January 1, 2017.
The requirement of 2 years or 40 pounds doubles the previous law for California, as well as the current law for a majority of the United States. Most states require children traveling in an infant car seat to be restrained and rear-facing until the child reaches 1 year of age or 20 pounds in weight.
Rear-Facing Is Safest For Infant Travel
Professionals and safety experts agree that the safest way for an infant to travel by vehicle is to be rear facing. However, many infant car seats are designed to be turned forward facing once the child reaches 1 year old or 20 pounds. California may be the first of many states to not only consider extending the rear facing requirement, but to implement a law requiring it as well.
The bill, which passed in September 2016, is designed to protect the safety of infant children traveling by motor vehicle. Medical professionals say that the heads of young children are heavier and their necks and spinal cords are still developing. This puts infants and young children at a higher risk for severe injury during a motor vehicle collision.
The author of the new bill, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, cites that young children facing forward have a 75% greater chance of injuring their spine or breaking a neck during the impact of an accident.
Opposition From Parents
Implementing such a law to ensure that children are kept as safe as possible in a car would be assumed an invaluable change. However, this change has certainly been met with opposition from California motorists with young children.
Parents have expressed concern over the child’s comfort in a rear facing child seat once the child reaches a certain height or weight. Parents feel that once a child reaches the one year mark they are anxious to have their child forward facing in the vehicle so that the child not only can stretch out more but also be able to see more of their surroundings.
By the age of 1, most children will outgrow an infant car seat. The next step is transitioning to a convertible car seat. The state of California will now require that convertible car seat to be rear facing for an additional year. Any driver found in violation of child safety restraints run the risk of being fined up to $500.
One mother also told the LA Times in an interview that she prefers to see her child’s face in the rear view mirror while driving and would prefer to have her son forward facing.
Any change will undoubtedly bring fear and opposition to what we’ve been comfortable with. California lawmakers encourage drivers to consider the safety benefits of a rear facing car seat over the conveniences of a forward facing seat.
Missouri Child Safety Restraint Laws
Missouri law for child safety restraints are as follows:
- Children must be in a rear-facing safety seat until the age or 1 or 20 pounds
- Children must be restrained in a child safety seat until the age of 4 or 40 pounds
- Children ages 4-7 must be in a child safety seat or booster seat until they are 80 pounds or 4’ 9”
- Children over the age of 8 who are at least 80 pounds or 4’ 9” may ride fastened with a seat belt
If you have questions about Missouri child safety seat laws or have been involved in a motor vehicle collision with a young child, give us a call to discuss any potential claim. The lawyers at Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers always have the safety of you and your young child at the forefront of our priorities.