Car seats, booster seats, and seatbelts
Car seat and booster seat recommendations
Get the best safety benefits of your child’s car seat by following these recommendations, provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Don't rush from one seat to the next. Keep your child in the current seat and positioning for as long as possible (according to the seat manufacturer's height and weight requirements), to maximize safety.
- Keep infants and toddlers in rear-facing car seats until at least 2 years old or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat. Rear-facing is 5 times safer for children and many car seats can rear-face a child up to 40 or 50 pounds.
- All children who have outgrown the rear-facing seat, (should be at least age 2, or outgrown car seat’s rear-facing height or weight maximums) should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness for as long as possible. Keep child in car seat with harness up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat.
- All children who have outgrown the forward-facing car seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap-and-should seat belt fits properly, typically when they reach 4'9" tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age. If your child climbs out of the booster seat, it’s not safe and too soon to switch. Find a car seat with harness that will fit his/her height and weight.
- When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap-and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection. Check out the Safe Kids Seat Belt Fit Test to know if your child is ready.
Click It or Ticket!
Washington state laws require that everyone in a motor vehicle wears a safety restraint that is properly fastened. Following this law can save you money and help save lives! The fine for not wearing a seatbelt or appropriate child restraint costs $124.
Washington's Seat Belt Law (RCW 46.61.688) requires:
- Every person 16 years or older operating or riding in a motor vehicle shall wear the safety belt assembly in a properly adjusted and securely fastened manner.
- No person may operate a motor vehicle unless all children passengers under the age 16 are either wearing a safety belt or are securely fastened in an approved child restraint device.
Washington's Child Passenger Restraint Law (RCW 46.61.687) requires:
- Children under age 8, unless they are 4'9" tall (whichever comes first), must be restrained in an appropriate child restraint system (car seat or booster seat).
- Children 8 years old or at least 4'9" tall who wear a seat belt MUST use it correctly (never under the arm or behind the back) or continue to use a child restraint.
- Children less than 13 years old are to be transported in the back seat, where it is practical to do so.
- Child restraint system must be used correctly according to the car seat AND vehicle manufacturer's instructions. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines for both the child restraint and the vehicle.
- 2017 Car Seat Guide, American Academy of Pediatrics
- Washington Safety Restraint Coalition
- Target Zero Traffic Safety Issues