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.
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- 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 two 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 seat, 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 a booster seat in the back seat until they fit the vehicle seat belt. Children must be in a safety seat through age seven, until they turn eight years old, as stated in Virginia law.
- Children should continue using a booster seat until the seat belt fits them properly.
4. Seat Belt
- When children outgrow their booster seat, they can usually fit the seat belt. 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 rests across their chest. It does not cross their neck or go off their shoulder.
- The lap belt fits low and snug across the hips, touching the upper thighs.
- Virginia Law requires that all children age seven years and younger, until they turn eight years old, to be properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat. There is no height or weight requirement.