A new law that recently passed in Washington could see children in booster seats for much longer than they've been previously. The new, stricter car seat law will see booster seat regulations based not only on age but height as well, meaning there could be some 12-year-olds who will be required to ride in a booster seat in the name of safety.
The law, signed by Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee states that children under the age of 12 who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches are required to use a booster seat, CNN reports.
The new law will require children under the age of 2 to remain in rear-facing car seats and encourages parents and caregivers to keep them rear facing for as long as possible. After the age of 2 and until the child is at least 4, forward facing seats with a harness need to be used. Again, it is recommended to use the harness-style seats for as long as the seat allows. Children under 13 must sit in the back seat and drivers can be ticketed if children under the age of 16 are found to not be using the legal restraints outlined by law.
Dr. Beth Ebel, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine and member of the Washington State American Academy of Pediatrics applauds the new legislation. “These changes will help parents protect their children on the road,” she stated. “This change brings us in line with current best thinking about keeping kids safe.”
BREAKING: Washington passes updated booster seat law to help keep kids safer during car crashes. Our Safe & Active Transport section lead Dr. Beth Ebel testified regarding the law and attended today's signing. Read more: https://t.co/CZWE6ry1kw pic.twitter.com/8sYraScDLc— Harborview Injury (@HIPRC) April 19, 2019
Ebel has been a supporter of stricter car seat laws for years, stating that many of the injuries seen in children after car accidents could possibly be prevented by proper car seat usage. “Harborview is the only Level 1 regional trauma center for children who have life-threatening injuries. Catastrophic car-crash injuries we’ve seen to children’s brains, organs, and nervous systems might have been preventable had the child been buckled in the correct car seat,” she explained. “It’s incredible the sort of crashes that kids can withstand, with no injury, when she's in the proper harness seat,” Ebel explained to K5 News. “I want every parent to be empowered, encouraged, and educated because there is nothing more precious than family,” she explained.
Having children rear-facing for as long as possible can help prevent serious injuries in infants and toddlers, and, as Ebel explained, incorrect car seat usage and improper seat belt placement can and has caused significant injuries to children. This new booster seat law will allow children under 4 foot 9 inches to ensure the proper placement of the seat belt and avoid unnecessary injuries.
Washington's new car seat laws will go in to effect on January 1, 2020.