Car seats, booster seats, and seatbelts
Free child car seat check events are happening locally throughout 2020 for parents, parents-to-be and caregivers. Whether this is your first time installing a car seat in preparation for the arrival of a new baby or you’ve done this many times, installing car seats correctly can be tricky. Only one in four car seats are installed correctly according to national data. That’s in part because every car seat and vehicle is different and as your child grows, how they sit in your car will change.
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.
- All infants ride in rear-facing car seats starting with their first ride home from the hospital. All infants and toddlers should ride rear-facing as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat. Rear-facing is the safest seat position for children and many car seats can rear-face a child up to 40 or 50 pounds.
- Children should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness when they have outgrown the rear-facing seat (check maximums of car seat's rear-facing height or weight). Children 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.
- Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown the forward-facing car seat (check car seat's height or weight maximums). A belt-positioning booster seat is used until the vehicle's lap-and-should seat belt fits properly. Booster seats must be used with a lap AND shoulder belt. If your child climbs out of the booster seat or will not sit upright for an entire trip, it is not safe and too soon to switch. Find a car seat with harness that will fit his/her height and weight.
- Children are large enough to use the vehicle seat belt typically when they reach 4'9" tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age. Most children will not fit seat belts without a booster seat until 10 or 11 years of age. Children should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection. Children younger than 13 should always ride in the back seat. 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
- Target Zero Traffic Safety Issues