New California law makes requirements much stricter for those children who want to kiss their booster seats goodbye. Currently, California law allows children by age 6 or 60 pounds to leave behind their booster seats. On October 4, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that increases the age requirement from age 6 to age 8, or the child being 4 feet 9 inches tall - whichever comes first. The new law will become effective on January 1, 2012.
In 2000, California was the nation's leader in the toughest child-safety seat standards in the U.S., but now trails 30 other states that have already increased the booster seat requirements. One reason behind the new legislation is the neck versus chest concern. Not all children age 6 or 60 pounds fit properly into adult seat belts. Experts say seat belts are supposed to hit across the shoulder and upper chest area, but the shoulder portion of the seat belt tends to ride up near a child's neck. This creates the risk of strangulation during a car accident. Also, some children may find the shoulder strap bothersome and put it behind their back, which during a collision can result in spinal cord injuries.