Yes. Virginia requires that all children be secured in an appropriate safety seat or booster seat when riding in a vehicle. Virginia’s law is quite different from other states, where parents do not need to use a car seat if the child is too tall or heavy.
These seats are designed to protect a child in an accident. Our Virginia Beach auto accident attorney reviews what you need to know.
Use a Seat for Children Under Age 8
The law requires that any child under 8 use a safety seat or booster seat. Of course, if your child is particularly small, then you should probably use a seat even when they get older.
Parents can be fined if they are caught in violation of the law. They are also endangering their children, who could go flying through the air if the car is involved in a collision. By using a safety seat, parents can minimize any risk of injury to their children.
Find an Appropriate Seat
The best seat is one that is appropriate for your child’s age, height, and weight. It should also fit your vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a tool that helps parents select seats. It asks for your child’s birthdate, height, and weight, then recommends seats depending on the information provided. You should only use a seat that meets Department of Transportation standards.
Virginia law requires that children under two ride in a rear-facing seat. Only move your child to a forward-facing seat when they meet the minimum weight limit for it. NHTSA recommends keeping your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as you can.
Children can graduate to a forward-facing model when they become too large for rear-facing seats. This happens usually by age 4, but it depends on how your child grows. Forward-facing seats have a harness or tether. You should keep your child in this type of seat until they outgrow it.
Continue with a Booster Seat after Age 8
Virginia law does not require children to be in a car or booster seat once they turn 8. However, NHTSA recommends that parents use booster seats until the child can comfortably wear a seat belt. A lap belt should fit snugly over the thighs, not over your child’s stomach.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles recommends that parents research any safety seat before purchasing it. You should check whether it is subject to a current recall at the NHTSA website. Also check the history of recalls and avoid models that seem to have recurring problems.
Request Government Assistance if You Are Low Income
Virginia recognizes that many parents are struggling financially, so the state offers free safety and booster seats for eligible parents. Parents, legal guardians, and foster parents can all apply. Visit the Low Income Safety Seat Program website for the location of the nearest agency.
Install the Seat Properly
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles recommends that you always place the safety seat in the back of the vehicle. The problem with putting the seat there is that the airbag might go off and could injure your child., so the DMV recommends turning the front airbag if your child must sit in front.
Read the instructions for installing the safety seat. Remember to check whether the seat is snugly in position before putting your child in it. A seat that moves forward or to the side more than one inch is not installed properly. For assistance installing a seat, you can find your nearest Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician for free help.
Was Your Child Injured in an Accident?
Barney Injury Law can review your case and determine how best to make a claim for compensation. For immediate assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. We proudly serve Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk, Virginia.