On July 1st, a new law took effect in Virginia that requires children up to two years old to be in a rear-facing child car seat, unless the child reaches the minimum weight limit set by the manufacturer. The law passed with broad support from parents and pediatricians who say that this will provide more safety for the child, leading to less injury and fewer deaths. If the car doesn’t have a back seat, the child seat can be placed in the front seat if the airbags are de-activated.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, proper installation and use of child car seats are statistically shown to reduce serious injury in car accidents by 74% in the United States. Recent national statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that in 2016, 723 children died in car accidents, 35% of which resulted from not being secured in their seat.
The Virginia Department of Health offers free child car seats and booster seats for eligible parents through the Low Income Safety Seat Program. It also offers a safety seat check program to help parents install and use the car seats properly.