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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Friday, June 8, 2007
Media Contact: Tia Freeman
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6701

New Age Requirements for Vehicle Booster Seats
Children Up To Age Eight Must Be Properly Secured

RICHMOND - New age requirements for children to be secured in booster seats take effect July 1 in Virginia. Children riding in motor vehicles will be required to be properly restrained until they reach eight years of age. Currently, the law requires a child safety seat for children through the age of five.

Additionally, the new law requires rear-facing child seats be placed only in the back seat of a vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a back seat, the device may be placed in the front passenger seat, provided the airbag has been deactivated, or there is no airbag equipment.

"The facts supporting the booster seat requirement are strong," said Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner D.B. Smit. "Studies show they lower the risk of injury to children in crashes by nearly 60 percent."

DMV's Virginia Highway Safety Office (VAHSO) reminds adult drivers they are responsible for ensuring that children in the vehicle are properly restrained.

A booster seat raises the child up so that the safety belt fits correctly and can better protect the child. The shoulder belt should cross the child's chest and rest snugly on the shoulder, and the lap belt should rest low across the pelvis or hip area, never across the stomach area.

An exemption to the new law is permitted, if a child's physician determines the use of a restraint system to be impractical due to the child's weight, physical fitness or any other medical reason. In these cases, any person transporting that child would need to carry a signed written statement by the physician explaining the reason for the recommended exemption.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children who are four feet, nine inches tall and 80-pounds may be ready for adult belts. It says they can safely start using safety belts when they can place their backs firmly against the seat-back cushion with their knees bent over the seat cushion.

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