RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In just a few weeks, your toddler’s car rides could get a little less exciting, but a lot more safe as new car seat laws mandate that children ages two and under are to be strapped into rear-facing safety seats.
“Being in a rear-facing safety seat, the shell behind them gives them more protection and helps reduce the risk or spinal injury and brain injury by 75%,” said Bethany McCunn of the Virginia Department of Health.
Under the new law, children under 2 years old, or children under the weight limit of their safety seats, will have to be seated in rear-facing seats in the back of the car. If a car does not have a backseat, the car seat may be placed in the front-side passenger seat, but only if the airbag has been deactivated.
McCunn says the idea behind the law is to keep children in safety seats for as long as possible, until they outgrow them, but there are some exceptions to the law.
“They can have a note from their doctor that makes them exempt from using a safety seat. That note does need to be carried by the driver," she said.
The law was actually passed last year, with support from groups like AAA.
The health department says the proper way to install the car seats is “snug installation: less than 1 inch of movement from side to side or front to back.”
The health department adds that it has a program to help low-income families who apply. If approved, "they go through an education course, and at the end of it, they are issued a safety seat. Caregivers and parents can apply as soon as the third trimester.”
McCunn says there will also be safety checkpoints around the Commonwealth where parents can take their car and car seat, to have it checked by safety experts to make sure it is properly installed. The locations can be found at safetyseatva.org.
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