Parents frequently place children in seat belts too soon. Seat belts are designed for adults and do not properly protect children until they are 4’9” tall. Under Washington law, people who transport children are required to adhere to the following basic rules to protect children in the event of a crash:
- Babies until at least age 1 and at least 20 lbs must use rear-facing seats. For best protection, leave child rear-facing until age 2 or longer.
- Keep them in a five-point harness for as long as they fit within the height and weight restrictions for the harness system.
- Children age four and older who have outgrown their five point harness remain in booster seats until 4’9” tall.
- All kids up to age 13 ride in the back seat of the vehicle where practical to do so.
Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children up to age 14. Nearly 73% of car seats are not installed or used correctly and nearly half of the children under the age of 14 who were killed in crashes were completely unrestrained.