While protecting our young children should be every parent’s top priority, the fact remains that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children in Washington – making knowledge of and adherence to Washington car seat laws that much more important.

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, despite the state’s child passenger restraint laws, more than half of the children killed in crashes were completely unrestrained.

Washington’s Child Passenger Restraint Law

In brief, Washington’s child passenger restraint law requires that child passengers must use booster seats until they are eight years old, or until they reach a height of 4 feet 9 inches. In addition, all children under the age of 13 are required to ride in the back seat of the vehicle, when that is practical.

Specifics of the Washington car seat law, RCW 46.37.510 state that the child restraint system must comply with standards of the United States Department of Transportation and must be secured in the vehicle in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions and instructions from the manufacturer of the child restraint system.

Enforcement of this law is subject to a visual inspection by law enforcement to determine if the child restraint system in use is appropriate for the child’s height, weight and age.

Individuals found to be in violation of the Washington car seat laws may be issued a notice of traffic infraction. Upon presentation of proof of acquisition of an approved child safety restraint system or child booster seat, as appropriate, within seven days of the ticket being issued, and if the individual has no previous violations of the law, the notice of traffic infraction will be dismissed.

Information on Child Car Seats

The Washington State Safety Restraint Coalition, recognized as the state’s independent authority on vehicle occupant protection and child car seats, provides a wealth of information to parents and caregivers on its website.

Included are tabs covering laws in all 50 states, what to consider when shopping for car seats and booster seats, proper fit and installation of car seats, and information on proper seat belt use for everyone in the vehicle, as well as technical tools.

There’s also an important FAQ section with detailed answers on infants and rear-facing seats, preschoolers and forward-facing seats, children and booster seats, correct information, special needs, and more.

Contact the Washington State Safety Restraint Coalition by calling 1-800- BUCK-L-UP (1-800-282-5587).

Other useful information, resources and links are available on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) site, Safercar.gov. Definitely check out the NHTSA Child Safety Ease-of-Use Ratings, information on LATCH restraint system, registering your car seat to receive recall notifications, where to find car seat inspection stations, and more.

Remember, Washington car seat laws are meant to help ensure the safety and well-being of all our young children. Be informed and always use the appropriate child safety restraint system or booster seat for your children.

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