What you need to know about Virginia's Car Seat Law
Today, Gov. Ralph Northam signed a new child passenger safety bill that could help save lives. The new bill requires children in Virginia to remain rear-facing in their car seats until age 2 or the minimum weight limit called for by the car seat manufacturer.
If your vehicle does not have a back seat, the child may sit in the front passenger seat but only when the passenger seat airbag is deactivated. The law does not apply to taxis, school buses or limousines.
Virginia Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) championed the bill with support from Safe Kids Virginia, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, Children’s National Health System and AAA Mid-Atlantic.
“The health of all children is our number one priority at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU,” said Corri Miller-Hobbs, Safe Kids Virginia program coordinator at CHoR. “This includes supporting legislature that will help keep kids safe from injury and out of the hospital.”
When: Virginia’s new car seat law goes into effect on July 1, 2019. But, you can start keeping your toddlers safer TODAY by keeping them in a rear-facing position.
Why: The law is based on current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Infants and toddlers are “head heavy,” and the rear-facing car seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of smaller children as their bodies are still developing.
Fine: Break the law and the fine for a first offense is $50.
Older kids: Virginia law is unchanged for older kids. Children 7 years and under must be restrained in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle. An adult safety belt is permissible for children ages 8-17, and safety belts are required for the driver and all passengers.
Tips for choosing a car seat for your kids
- Purchase a federally-approved safety seat designed for infants.
- Consider a seat with three or more harness strap positions.
- Maintain the correct seat angle according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Read vehicle and safety seat instruction manuals for assistance.
- Install seat prior to hospital discharge.
- Install seat in the rear-facing position.
- Do NOT use a safety seat with an unknown history (purchased at a yard sale, consignment store, etc.)
- Do NOT Wait until hospital discharge to install the safety seat or seek help.
- Do NOT Place padding behind the child’s back or under their bottom.
Do this, not that when choosing a car seat
The Ultimate Car Seat Guide
Safe Kids created The Ultimate Car Seat Guide, which is a go-to resource for personalized car seat safety tips based on your child’s age, height and weight. Check it out and learn what type of car seat is best for your child and tips on how to properly install and fit the car seat. The guide is also available en Espanol!
Check it out: You can get your child’s car seat inspected by a certified technician. Contact your local Virginia Safe Kids Coalition to find out how. The federal government also has a feature to find car seat technicians.
Additional car seat resources: