California has adopted a new car seat law as of January 1, 2017. The law does not apply to the state of Oregon.
If you live in California, the new law states that all residents with a 2-year-old child in the backseat of their car must have a rear-facing car seat.
The Oregon car seat laws are as follows:
1. According to Oregon law, children under 1 year of age and 20 pounds must be in an approved rear-facing car seat. However, best practice is to encourage parents/caregivers to keep children rear-facing as long as the seat allows it. This is also recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics because of crash dynamics and how rear-facing seats are designed to protect a child’s neck and spine in a crash. While it my not be illegal to turn your baby around as soon as she or he reaches that magical 1 year/20 pound benchmark, it is most definitely not recommended. Children are safest rear-facing.
2. There is no longer a recommended age for moving children to booster seats, (I originally thought the law was 4 years old and 40 pounds). Oregon law says that children must be in a harness system until they are 40 pounds. However, many car seat manufacturers are making harness systems that go to higher weight limits. So, if the harness system will allow a child to continue using it to say 65 pounds, then families are encouraged to continue utilizing the harness system. Just like race car drivers, children are safer in a five-point harness. But yes, technically children can move to a booster once they are 40 pounds. Also remember that when making the switch to booster seats, they cannot be used with lap belts only. You must have a lap and shoulder belt available to use a booster seat legally.
3. Children should remain in an appropriately sized booster seat until 8 years old or 4-feet 9-inches. There is no longer a weight requirement. Plus, Oregon’s seat belt law states that seat belt systems must be used properly and it trumps car seat laws. So, if you have a small 8-year-old and the seat belt does not fit him or her properly (meaning it rides up on their neck or their waist) then it is not being properly used. So, even though your child is 8, you could still be cited. Kids need to remain in boosters until they are big enough for the adult-sized lap/shoulder belt to fit them properly.