Changes to Washington’s Child Restraint Law Focus of Child Passenger Safety Week

Traffic Safety Officials helping parents understand and practice changes to the child restraint law

Changes to Washington’s child passenger restraint law (RCW 46.61.687) take affect January 1, 2020.  Car crashes are a leading killer of children ages 1-13.  Using the right seat can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent.  To help reduce fatalities, state traffic safety officials are using Child Passenger Safety Week to educate parents and caregivers about changes in the law and the correct installation and use of car seats, booster seats and seat belts. The week runs from September 15-21, and officials are promoting safety messages through social media and free car seat inspection stations across the state.

The revised car seat law will require the following:

  • Children up to age 2 must be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat.
  • Children ages 2-4 must be properly secured in a car seat with a harness (rear or forward facing).
  • Children 4 and older and less than four feet nine inches tall must be secured in a booster seat with seat belt (or continue in harness seat).
  • Children over height four feet nine inches must be secured by a properly fitted seat belt (typically starting at 8-12 years old).

Children up to age 13 must ride in the back seat when practical to do so.
Child restraint system must comply with U.S. DOT standards and be used according to vehicle and child restraint manufacturer.

Cesi Velez, Project Manager for Washington’s Child Passenger Safety Program, expressed excitement about the upcoming changes. “We are moving in the right direction. One thing I want parents to understand is that the law provides the minimum requirements of safety for children in the car. Safety experts recommend a child should remain in each stage of restraint until they reach the maximum height and weight based on the manufacturer’s instructions, for the best protection.”                   

Car seats can be very confusing, resulting in significant misuse. There are car seat inspection services throughout Washington. Says Velez, “Dedicating approximately 30 minutes for an inspection could save your child’s life.”

To find the nearest location, visit www.safercar.gov/parents.  Parents can also find additional information at wacarseats.com.

Child Passenger Safety Week is sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and supported by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), concluding with National Seat Check Saturday, September 21.

Supplied by Dana Hutchinson, Mary Bridge