LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A new law requiring children to be secured in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2 has been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, was signed Monday and will go into effect in 2017. Children taller than 40 inches or weighing more than 40 pounds will be exempt.
“With this easy modification, California will lead the way in averting needless tragedy and in saving the lives of our youngest residents,” Garcia said in a statement.
Currently, children are required to be secured in rear-facing car seats until age 1.
“You always think, ‘OK, what if I turned him and if we were in an accident, what if I would have kept him?’ I don’t think I’d ever want to play the would-have game,” Katie Brooks, who intends to keep her 18-month-old son rear-facing in his car seat until he’s at least 2.
“I’m not a big proponent of having the state tell you what you can and can’t do with your child,” said Brooks, adding, “But I think that in this case, it’s not really an opinion. It’s just something that’s safer for them.”
The law had the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which in 2011 updated its recommendations that children should remain rear-facing until they are too tall or too heavy for their convertible car seats, the California State PTA and the California State Firefighters’ Association.
In an accident, young children facing forward have a greater chance of injuring their spines and even breaking their necks due to the impact, according to Garcia. Despite the recommendations from the AAP and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 75 percent of parents still turn their children forward facing too early, she said.
“If you have them in a rear-facing position, then the back of the seat is actually protecting the neck and spine,” CHP Officer Charmaine Fajardo said.
“Once you turn them around, they then become susceptible to injuries just like we are as adults,” she said.
But not all moms are prepared to embrace the new law.
“It’s gonna be a little more inconvenient now because he doesn’t like the car seat. I think he would if he was able to see me,” said Jessie Pope, a mother of three with a newborn. Pope turned her older son around at 14 months because of his size.
“My 2-year-old had this car seat and he literally just like his legs were kicking up against the seat and I had to turn him,” she said.