Sometimes parents might need to rely on a taxi cab service when their car is being repaired or they need to travel somewhere quickly with their children and are not able to rely on a car or public transportation. For safety reasons, parents should ensure the taxi cab service is properly equipped with seat belts, and be knowledgeable about state seat belt and child restraint laws.
Seat Belt Law
According to the California Highway Patrol, the following procedures are required for children in motor vehicles: children younger than 8 years of age must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat; children younger than 8, but who are 4-foot-9 or taller, can be secured by a safety belt in the back seat; children 8 years and older should be secured in an appropriate child passenger restraint system or safety belt; and passengers 16 years of age and older are subject to California's mandatory seat belt law. Child seat or restraint systems should meet federal manufacturing standards.
California's seat belt laws contain language regarding taxicab operators and their passengers. The operator cannot operate a taxicab unless passengers "eight years of age or over in the front seat are properly restrained by a safety belt." According to the state seat belt law, when the taxicab is driven on a city street and is transporting "a fare-paying passenger" who is 16 years of age or older, the same seat belt law does not apply. However, any taxi or limousine operating on a highway "shall maintain safety belts in good working order for the use of the occupants of the vehicle."
California Occupant Protection Laws require that any driver who is transporting a child in a passenger vehicle "is required to properly secure the child." Seat belt use has been shown to reduce car accident injuries and fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that "seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes." These occupant-protection laws apply to all vehicles and do not mention an exception for taxis, except the one listed above regarding transport within a city.
The bottom line for children is that in taxicabs operating in California, children must by law use a safety belt, booster or restraint seat according to their weight and age. The driver and children's parents might be cited by law enforcement if any of these rules are not followed. Children and their parents should follow the same safety rules they follow in their own car, according to the state Mandatory Seat Belt Law.