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Parents need to know about Washington's new car-seat rules going into effect Jan. 1

Bellingham Herald - 12/28/2019

Dec. 27--Washington state's new and stricter car seat law for children starts Jan. 1 and will require kids to be buckled into booster seats until they're older because of a new height requirement.

Backers said the goal of the new law is to improve safety and to align with recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 675 children who were 12 years old and younger died while nearly 116,000 were hurt in crashes nationally in 2017, the most recent data available from the CDC.

Here's what parents need to know about the measure, which requires that:

-- Children who are younger than 2 years old must be in a rear-facing car seat.

-- Children who are 2 to 4 years old must be in a car seat with a harness, whether they're facing the rear or facing forward.

-- Children who are older than 4 and who have outgrown a car seat must use a booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall. Most kids reach that height when they're 10 to 12 years old, according to a UW Medicine website about the new requirements.

Vehicle seat belts don't fit children until they hit 4 feet 9 inches, according to, which is a partnership of Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center and University of Washington Medicine.

-- In all cases, children must be properly belted or secured in whatever sort of seat they're using. That can mean continuing to use the booster or car seat until children reach the maximum height and weight specifications set by the manufacturer.

People who don't follow the measure could be ticketed with a traffic infraction.

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