Per California Vehicle Code, ESTA requires child car seats be used on all buses that are equipped with seatbelts as required by law.

Riders will be required to supply the proper child safety seat at the time of pick up for all children under eight years old unless they are 4’ 9” or taller.

Dial-a-ride vehicles and buses providing regional service have seatbelts and require car seats as outlined in this post. Fixed route buses  and trolleys in Mammoth Lakes generally do not have seatbelts. Please call 760-872-1901 ext. 22 if you have questions about a specific route.

These are the laws regarding children:

Children Under Eight Years Old

California law requires that all children under the age of eight be secured:

  • in an “appropriate” child passenger restraint system that meets federal standards
  • in a seat that is not in the front next to the driver.

The appropriateness of a car seat usually depends on the age and size of the child. But generally, it’s going to be one of three types: rear-facing, forward-facing, or a booster seat. However, for children who are 4’ 9” or taller, the law requires only a seatbelt.  (Cal. Veh. Code §§ 27360(a), 27363(d) (2017).)

Children Under Two Years Old

California enacted a new child safety seat law that took effect on January 1, 2017. The legislation requires all children who are under two years old to be secured:

  • in a rear-facing car seat that meets federal standards
  • in the back seat, and
  • in a manner that complies with the seat manufacturer’s height and weight specifications.

The rear-facing child seat requirement doesn’t apply for children weighing 40 pounds or more or who are 40 inches or taller. (Cal. Veh. Code § 27360(a) (2017).)

Children Between Eight and 16 Years Old

With children who are at least eight but less than 16 years old, drivers are responsible for ensuring the child is secured in an appropriate child seat or seatbelt. For many kids in this age range, a safety belt—rather than a car seat—is the appropriate type of restraint. (For more information on choosing the right car seat, go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website.) (Cal. Veh. Code § 27360.5 (2017).)


A court can make an exception to any of the child safety restraint laws when application of the law would be impractical because of a child’s:

  • physical unfitness
  • medical condition, or size

And generally, a driver is excused from placing a child who is under eight years old in the back seat (see requirement above) when:

  • there is no back seat
  • the rear seats are side-facing jump seats
  • the back seats are rear facing
  • the child seat can’t be installed properly in the back seat
  • all the rear seats are occupied by children under the age of eight, or
  • medical reasons require that the child ride in a front seat.

A rear-facing car seat can’t, however, be put in the front seat when there are active front passenger airbags. (Cal. Veh. Code § 27363 (2017).)