The Child Passenger Safety Program promotes proper safety seat use for children until they transition to the vehicle safety belt (from birth through nine to twelve years of age). Our goal is to increase risk awareness and correct safety seat usage through outreach and education. The program provides proper installation education and addresses the barriers that limit access to safety devices. To learn more about our initiatives and partners, click here.
- Virginia law requires children to ride in a rear-facing safety seat until the age of two or the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing safety seat as stated by the manufacturer of the safety seat.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration also recommend using a rear-facing child safety seat until 2 years of age or longer if the seat has higher weight and height limits specified by the manufacturer, which can be as high as 40-50 pounds for newer seats.
- Never place a rear-facing safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle with an active passenger airbag.
- When children outgrow their rear-facing safety seats, they should ride in forward-facing child safety seat with a 5-point harness, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of their safety seat.
- It is best to use a 5-point harness as long as the safety seat will allow.
3. Booster Seat
- Once children outgrow their forward-facing safety seat, they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until they fit the vehicle seat belt. Children must be in a safety seat until they turn 8 years old as stated in Virginia law.
- Seat belts fit correctly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs. The shoulder belt should fit across the chest (usually when they are 4’9″ tall).
4. Seat Belt
- When children outgrow their booster seats, they can usually fit the adult seat belts. The seat belt fits properly when:
- The child’s knees bend over the edge of the vehicle seat cushion and feet should rest flat on the floor.
- The child is sitting with their back against the seat and not slouching.
- The shoulder belt to rest across their chest midway between the shoulder and neck.
- The lap belt fits low and snug across the hips, touching the upper thighs.
- Virginia Law requires that all children age 7 years and younger to be properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat. There is no height or weight requirement.