Car Seat Safety Guidelines


Child Passenger Safety Week: September 18-24

According to 2014 data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every 33 seconds, one child under the age of 13 is involved in a car crash. Child Passenger safety week, September 18-24, seeks to educate parents and caretakers on proper child car safety.

With the start of a new school year, more children are on the roads to and from school every day. In our efforts to positively impact children ages 0-5 in our community, First 5 San Diego is focused on all factors impacting the well-being of children. We want to help you keep children safe by providing car seat guidelines for children up to five years old.

Choose the right car seat
Child Passenger Safety begins with choosing the age appropriate car seat for your child. Children 0-1 can be in infant-only car seats that can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and all-in-one seats can grow with the child, beginning in infancy until three years of age as a rear-facing seat. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing seat, they are ready for a forward-facing car seat, generally from four to seven years of age. A convertible seat or an all-in-one seat converts from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing one to grow with your child. A combination seat begins as a forward-facing seat and then becomes a booster seat once the child reaches the manufacturer’s height or weight limit.

Proper car seat position
Through age 12, children are recommended to ride in the back seat of a vehicle whether in a rear-facing, forward-facing or booster seat. Children age zero to one years-old should only ride rear-facing. It is recommended that rear-facing seating be continued until age three. In the event of a collision, a rear-facing seat moves with the child to absorb the impact rather than the child’s developing neck and fragile spinal cord. Four through seven year old children transition to forward-facing car seats. These age ranges are general guidelines to follow, but remember to always follow the height and weight guidelines in the car seat’s manual.

For more child car seat information, visit

Safety inspections each car seat
Car seat safety does not end with a correctly sized or positioned car seat. According to data from the NHTSA, 59 percent of car seats are misused. That is why car seat safety inspections are important. Child Passenger Safety Week ends with National Seat Check on September 24. Several safety inspection stations are available throughout San Diego County. Certified technicians inspect the child car seat and demonstrate proper installation and use, usually free of charge. To find a child safety inspection station, visit: