The state of Virginia may seem to have mild laws regarding car seat safety, but it still puts the lives of the youngest ones in the first place.
The Virginia authorities even take child restraint systems as seriously as any other U.S. state.
The Child Passenger Safety Program is included in Virginia to promote good safety seats for children in transportation.
The correct usage of safety belts and restraint systems brings us one step closer to having risk-free roadways.
In Virginia, you can contact the CPSP to consult about the proper installation of car seats and restraint systems.
In this guide, we will cover the 2022 Virginia car seat laws and a few tips on installation and safety regulations.
The traffic situation in Virginia has been alarmingly critical in the past few years.
Back in 2019, 827 tragically ended in car crashes. Also, the 2019 statistics show that around 180 people are injured every day in traffic.
Let's buckle up our loved ones and have safe rides on Virginia highways.
Car Seat Law In Virginia
In Virginia, children are required to be secured in a child restraint device until the age of eight.
The seats in use need to be adequately secured and approved by the Department of Transportation standards.
The Virginia car seat law is based on age and the excellent use of restraint systems.
You are required to check the car seat manufacturers' installations and requirements before you switch the seat.
Suppose you violate the law of not restraining the child in transportation, the civil penalty results in a $50 charge.
Anyone found guilty the second time will be charged $500.
If the child cannot use a specific restraint system for medical reasons, you need to supply a valid doctor's letter.
An added $20 charge will be added if you do not provide any medical validation exempting you from the law.
1. Rear-Facing Car Seat
All children who are younger than two years old will have to be secured in a rear-facing seat until they outgrow the criteria given out by the seat manufacturer.
The rear-faced seat needs to be installed in the back seat of the car.
If the car lacks one, you can install it in the front seat only when the airbag is disabled.
2. Forward-Faced Seat
By the Virginia car seat law, children can travel in the forward seat as soon as they reach their criteria (age, weight, height).
In this situation, you have to check the car seat manufacturer's recommendations to see when it is the right time to use a forward-faced seat.
3. Booster Seat Law
According to the Virginia state law, children under the age of eight need to be secured in a child restraint system.
When the child surpasses the criteria for a forward-faced seat, they cannot travel in a booster seat.
No statement declares the exact age-appropriate for using a booster seat.
Like with the forward-faced, you will need to consult with the car seat manual and check the appropriate age, weight, and height for booster seats.
When you purchase a booster seat, make sure that it consists of a shoulder and lap belt.
The two need to be installed appropriately to secure the child adequately.
If the lap belt does not go snugly over the thighs or the shoulder one does not go over the chest, then it's not the time for a booster seat yet.
Also, pay attention to the kind of booster seat you are purchasing. There are the ones with a headrest and the backless ones.
The backless ones are suitable if your car already has a proper headrest, while the ones with the headrest included serving for vehicles that lack one.
Here is a helpful video we provided about booster seats.
4. The Right Time for Front Seat Rides
The Virginia law declares that children over the age of 8 can ride in the front seat.
On the other side, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advice is that children usually are ready for the front seat around the age of twelve.
Then again, seat belts vary on the type of vehicle, but it is best to check if the belt fits firmly and secures the appropriately secured child.
Can You Leave Children Unattended in Vehicles?
We found no such law declaring whether it is illegal to leave the child unattended in a vehicle in Virginia.
Smoking in Vehicles With Children Present
In Virginia state, it is illegal to smoke in the car with children present. If a minor is present, the charge for the violation of the law is $100.
Let's review some numbers if you didn't know just how dangerous exposure to secondhand smoke is.
Smoke exposure is known to disperse hundreds of harmful chemicals, out of which at least 70 are cancer-related.
Children are vulnerable when it comes to smoke exposure.
With their undeveloped immune systems, numerous illnesses are evoked, such as ear infection, asthma, SIDS, bronchitis, and respiratory disease.
Smoking in the car increases the risk of complications since the smoke is highly concentrated.
You would be surprised at the levels of carbon monoxide present even if the window is rolled down.
Read more —
Are Taxis Excluded From The Law?
Virginia is one of the states where taxis and other ordered vehicles are exempt from following the child restraint laws.
However, be aware that you are still obliged to carry a car seat or a booster during the ride.
It is best to protect your child during the ride and have a safe mind.
Taxis are maybe excluded from the law, but they are still prone to accidents just like any other vehicle on the road.
Replacing the Car Seat After Accident
After an accident occurs, you are obliged to replace the car seat.
It Is only logical to do this even if some laws do not declare it; car seats are prone to damage like all the car components.
Depending on the manufacturer, their lifespan is usually around six years, and after then, you need to inspect it and replace it with a newer model.
Tips On Choosing A Car Seat
Here are a few tips for our new parents out there struggling to find the perfect model.
Infant seats don'ts:
1. Never use a car seat with an unknown history.
As much as the prices seem tempting, try to save some money on the side and purchase an unused model.
2. Do not place any padding behind the child's back.
If he/she does not fit in the car seat, you should probably look for an appropriate one.
3. Do not install the rear-faced seat in the front seat of the car.
This, however, depends on the vehicle manufacturer and the laws of the state.
What To Look For In a Car Seat
1. A five-point harness system is always a plus.
It securely holds the child in place, limiting the movement and keeping them comfortable throughout the ride.
2. Check if the seat has up to three crotch strap positions.
3. Always check if the seat is federally approved.
Now that we have covered the Virginia car seat laws, tips, and tricks on having a safe ride to Virginia, we can only wish you luck on your vacation.
Follow the directions and buckle-up!