Child Passenger Safety

The Child Passenger Safety Program promotes proper safety seat use for children.
Goal – increase correct safety seat usage through outreach and education.
The program provides:

  • Education for safety seat use
  • Safety seats to qualified applicants
  • Presentations on child passenger safety


General Safety Seat Use

  • Restraint devices are required for children through the age of seven (until 8th birthday). This includes safety seats and booster seats.
  • Safety seats must be properly used. This includes following directions for use and the limits for height, weight, and age.
  • The safety seat must meet the Department of Transportation standards.
  • It is best to use a safety seat in the back seat of the vehicle. Children are to ride using a seat belt once they outgrow their safety seat.
  • The child restraint law is primary enforcement. A ticket can be issued with no other violation. Fines are $50 to $500 and used to purchase safety seats for low-income families.
  • The law applies to all vehicles manufactured after January 1, 1968.
  • Some vehicles are exempt. This includes:
    • Taxicabs
    • Limousines and executive sedans
    • Public transportation
    • Regulation school buses
    • Farm vehicles
  • Uber and Lyft are not exempt.

Rear-facing Safety Seat Use

  • Virginia law requires children to ride in a rear-facing safety seat until the age of two or they reach the minimum weight limit of their forward-facing safety seat. The safety seat must be used as directed by the manufacturer.
  • It is best to have a child stay rear-facing until age two or they outgrow the seat by height or weight.
  • Rear-facing child restraint devices must be placed in the back seat of a vehicle.
  • Never place a rear-facing safety seat in front of an active air bag.
  • If there is no back seat, it is ok to place the safety seat in the front passenger seat. Only put the safety seat in the front seat if there is no passenger air bag or the passenger air bag is turned off.

Forward-facing Safety Seat Use

  • Use a forward-facing safety seat after the child has outgrown the rear-facing safety seat’s weight or height limits.
  • Use a safety seat with a five-point harness for as long as possible.

Booster Seat Use

  • Use a booster seat once children outgrow their forward-facing safety seat by height or weight.
  • Continue using a booster seat until the child can 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.

Seat Belt Use

  • 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.
  • All passengers should properly wear a seat belt.