Children are safest within a vehicle, properly restrained in a car seat. California has set laws stating the minimum age to ride in a booster seat. Booster seats comes in two styles, the high back booster, which is a seat much like forward facing toddler restraints without the harness. This type of seat offers proper belt positioning for a smaller child. The other style, a no back booster, has a firm cushion and offers a "boost" to help the child sit high enough to make the seat belt safe.
Booster Age Requirements
California law requires children older than 4 but younger than 6 ride in a booster seat. Once a child reaches the age of 6, he can be moved into a regular seat belt. Researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia state, for children 4 to 7 years, booster seats reduce injury risk by 59 percent compared to seat belts alone.
A child must weigh 40 pounds or more to ride in a booster seat. According to carseat.org, booster seats are designed for use after a child has outgrown the weight limit on his harnessed seat. If your child meets the 40-pound requirement, car seat experts recommend keeping your child harnessed until he exceeds his particular seat's weight limit. Currently many seats on the market allow children to be harnessed until 65 or more pounds.
California does not have a current height requirement for children to move out of a booster seat. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration children should be kept in a booster until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Both the lap and shoulder belt are required with a booster seat. Lap belts need to fit low and tight across the hips and shoulder belts need to cross the collarbone and center of the chest. In addition, any child under 6 years and 60 pounds must ride in the rear seat of a vehicle. The exception to this rule is if there is no forward facing seat in the rear of the vehicle available.
How does California Compare
Currently, 30 states have more strict age requirements than California, with 24 of those states requiring a child be 8 years old before she can move to just a seat belt. Twenty-one states currently have height requirements for moving a child out of a booster.