What are Virginia’s child safety seat laws?

Keeping babies and children safe in vehicles is important. Virginia parents should know the laws and types of seats required.

One of the last things a parent in Virginia wants to think about is their child being injured or killed in a car accident. There are many factors that can help to keep children safe while riding in motor vehicles. Some of these are able to be controlled by parents and others are not.

Parents have the ability to ensure that they drive safely, never drive after drinking alcohol, and follow all traffic laws. Sadly, parents do not have the ability to control these same things for other drivers. This opens the door to the possibility that another negligent driver may cause an accident. The next line of defense parents have in these situations is their choice in car seats for their kids.

What does Virginia require parents to do when it comes to child safety seats? What other recommendations should parents follow?

Basics of Virginia law

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the basic law in Virginia regarding child safety seats is straightforward. Every child must be in some form of approved seating or restraint system until the age of eight. There are no provisions giving alternatives based upon the height or weight of children.

After the age of eight, the state recommends that kids be kept in booster seats until they completely and fully fit a standard seatbelt. That typically happens somewhere between the ages of eight and 12.

Selecting the right seat at the right age

HealthyChildren.org provides some basic guidelines about what type of seats or systems may be used at different stages of development.

Rear-facing seats are recommended for use for the first 24 months of a child's life. These should always be positioned in the back seats of vehicles. These seats should feature five-point harnesses. Some are able to be converted to front-facing seats when babies are ready. Other models are rear-facing only and often click in and out of bases in vehicles and even snap onto strollers for each transfer of infants from cars to strollers.

After at least two years of age, parents may turn kids around to face the front of a vehicle but still remain in the rear seat. Forty pounds is a good starting point for when children may be ready for this. Again, these seats will use a five-point harness. Kids should stay in these seats until they surpass the weight limits of the seats used.

Booster seats are the next stage as kids get bigger. These are essentially seats that raise kids up so that seat belts fit over the shoulder at the right location, not around the neck or other areas. These should be used until a child can safely fit a seat belt without the booster.

Consulting an attorney for help

The use of car safety seats can certainly help should a parent be involved in an accident with the children in the car. When an accident involving children does occur due to the negligence of others, parents deserve help. Talking to the experienced professionals at the Law Offices of Daniel L. Crandall and Associates is one way that accident victims can learn what types of compensation may be available to them in these situations.