Parents will want to check their child’s car seat before July 1 because of a new law

Capitol Connection

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. — A quick sip of coffee. Grabbing the diaper bag. Saying bye to Penny the dog and dad before running out of the house. Sometimes, it’s busy for Haley Glynn to get her girls going in the morning.

Making sure little Margot is secure in her rear-facing car seat is a priority.

“We have the tools, we have the keys to keep them as safe as possible, why not do it?” Glynn said, buckling in the toddler.

4-year-old Harper was already getting her car seat buckles ready for mom as the rain started on Friday. Glynn says it’s important to get children thinking about car safety early.

You see, Glynn isn’t just a mom of two young girls. She’s been certified for nearly five years to teach people how to put in child car seats and goes around Virginia help parents learn safety tips.

“Ideally, we’d like to keep infants and toddlers in rear-facing seats for as long as possible,” Haley Glynn, a Traffic Safety Community Educator with AAA Mid-Atlantic, said. “It positions their back which is the strongest part of their body backwards so that it’s protected more in a crash.”

In a crash, the car seat essentially cocoons the child. If they’re facing forward, Glynn says there’s more risk for injuries.According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children are 75 percent less likely to die or have a serious injury during a crash if they’re in a rear-facing child seat. Another report from AAP shows car crashes have been one of the leading causes of death for children 14 years old and younger for about the past decade. Four children die each day in crashes.

But a new Virginia law could make kids safer in vehicles. Starting July 1, children will be required to be put into rear-facing child seats until they are two years old or until they grow out of the seat, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

HB708 initially passed in 2018, strengthening Virginia’s child restraint device law. It was sponsored by House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-District 41). There was a delay in when the bill would go into effect so more families could learn about these changes over the year, advocates say.

If a driver is caught without one, they could face a $50 fine for a first offense. Following offenses could cost up to $500.

“Interestingly, that money goes into a fund to help those who cannot afford a car seat, obtain one,” Martha Meade, the Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said. AAA Mid-Atlantic was one of the main advocates for this piece of legislation.

The Virginia Dept. of Health oversees this fund. You can call 1-800-732-8333 for more information about resources if you or you know of a family that can’t afford a child seat.

Virginia law also requires kids to be in a child restraint device until their 8th birthday.

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