Current Virginia law requires that children remain in safety seats that meet the Department of Transportation requirements until their eighth birthdays. Once they reach age eight, children who are not restrained in car seats are required to wear seat belts. Unlike other states and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines, Virginia’s current law is based solely on age and not on height or weight.
New Car Seat Law Goes Into Effect July 1, 2019
In March 2018, Governor Northam signed a new car seat law that will go into effect on July 1, 2019. As of that date, infants and children under the age of two must remain in rear-facing car seats until they reach the age of two or they reach the minimum weight limit set by the manufacturer for a forward-facing car seat.
What the AAP Says About Car Seats
While the AAP can’t make or enforce law, it has provided its recommendations for car seat safety. Specifically, the AAP recommends that:
- Infants and children under the age of two ride in rear-facing car seats until they reach the maximum height or weight for the seat.
- Toddlers and preschoolers ride in forward-facing car seats with a harness until they reach the maximum high or weight for the seat.
- School-age children remain in forward-facing car seats until they reach the maximum height or weight for the seat, and then ride in booster seats until they reach four feet nine inches in height (which typically happens between the ages of 8 and 12).
- Older children remain in booster seats until they reach four feet nine inches in height, and then remain in the back seat with a seat belt until at least their 13th birthdays.
As a parent, you must comply with Virginia state law. Additionally, you may consider the recommendations of the AAP and other organizations.
Car seats can greatly reduce car accident injuries for children, but they can’t prevent all injuries. If your child is involved in a crash, we encourage you to get prompt medical attention even if the child was in a car seat at the time of the accident. If your child did suffer car accident injuries, we also encourage you to contact our experienced car accident injury lawyers for a free consultation. Let us evaluate your child’s claim and, if appropriate, help your child make a fair and full recovery of damages after a car crash injury.