Tools for Health Care Professionals

Pediatricians and other health care professionals are valuable partners in educating parents about child passenger safety, from getting secured in their first car seat to getting behind the steering wheel.  The information provided on this site will provide materials and evidence for clinicians to provide anticipatory safety guidance at each visit and valuable resources to provide to families.  This includes information and resources for children with a variety of special needs including developmental delays and temporary physical needs such as surgical procedures and casting.

Child Passenger Safety Training Module for Physicians

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a one-hour Child Passenger Safety (CPS) training module for practicing pediatric health care professionals. Ben Hoffman, MD, FAAP, narrates this overview of the fundamentals of CPS techniques, best-practice guidelines, and patient-interviewer tools. The course if available free of charge. To earn CME credits, AAP members pay $25 and non-members $30, and complete a short quiz.  To take this course, please visit

The Law

The California Child Passenger Safety Law: The child passenger safety law in California states that a child must be restrained in a child passenger safety restraint, in the back seat, until they reach 8 years old unless they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall or taller.  Why 4 foot 9 inches tall?  That is the height where a seat belt fits most children safely. The law also states that a child under the age of 16 must be appropriately restrained in a seat belt, defined as wearing a seat belt that fits across the chest and low on the hips, touching the thigh (the five step safety belt test). To see if a child passes the “five step safety belt test” and can wear a seat belt safely, please visit the “Find the Right Car Seat” page and select “9 yrs or older”.

The law also states that smoking is not permitted in a vehicle with a child passenger under the age of 18, and that no child under the age of 6 should be left unattended in a vehicle. Please see the information below on preventing heat stroke. Click here to read all the laws and regulations regarding child passengers.

Best Practice and Anticipatory Guidance

The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends the following age specific recommendations:

  • Birth to  two years or older: Children should remain, rear facing until the upper height and weight limit for that seat in the rear facing position, usually this occurs at age two years or older. This position protects a developing spine and musculature through the safety features of the shell of the sea.
  • Two years and older: Children should remain in a 5-point harness system until the upper height and weight limit for that harness. Usually between 40 to 80 pounds. Encourage parents to purchase the highest harness weight limit they can afford as this is the safest car seat restraint. The harness helps distribute the forces of a crash better than the lap shoulder belt of a standard seat belt.
  • Children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat: Children should ride in the back seat until their 13th birthday. The back seat is 40% safer in a crash than the front seat
  • Children under the age of 16 must fit securely in a seat belt by passing the 5 point Safety Belt Test.  This will ensure that the seat belt fits over the clavicle and pelvis, structures that can best withstand forces of a crash and protect the vital organs, spine and head.
  • To link to the official position statements on the above stated recommendations click here

Encourage a Child Safety Seat Inspection

We realize that physicians and other health care professionals have many aspects of care to cover during a patient visit. Please encourage your families to visit our Safety Seat Inspection’s and sign up for our Birthday club reminder program to ensure that children are transitioning to the appropriate car seat at the correct age.

Child Passenger Safety for all Children

The Transportation Safety Program at Rady Children’s Hospital provides services for all children, including children requiring special adaptive seating. Such as children with long term physical and behavioral needs, as well as children requiring temporary needs due to a surgery or casting.