Despite the strict Washington car seat laws, there has been reported a car accident on the roads of Washington state after every 4 minutes back in 2017.
The reasons are very common such as using improper seat belt use, incorrectly installed car seats, and not following the Washington car seat laws.
Following the proper child car seat rules and wearing the seat belt will reduce (70%) chances of getting injured in car accidents. Like the other states of the US, Washington car seat laws keep changing according to minimize the number of car accidents.
Washington Car Seat Laws 2022 to Keep Your Child Safe While On Road
As mentioned in the RCW 46.37.501:
Every child less than 16 will wear a safety seatbelt or properly restrained in the motor vehicle, neighborhood electric vehicle, or other electric vehicles (operating at medium-speed)
Washington car seat laws are different for children of different ages as the car seats also vary with age, as detailed below.
Related: types of car seats by age
1. Washington Car Seat Laws for Rear Facing Child (Below 2-Years)
Car seat laws Washington State for a rear-facing child are the same as described by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) i.e.
Newborn babies will ride rear-facing car seats and will be restrained by rear-facing restraint system until they have outgrown the age (2+ years), weight (30 lbs.), and height (35 inches) limit for that car seat
Rear-facing car seats are the safest option for infants and even toddlers too, because their body has not been developed fully and they need to be protected from any kind of injury to their most fragile body parts such as the head, and neck.
Rear facing vs Forward Facing Statistics showed that these body parts can only be protected in rear-facing as the solid back of the car seat will shield their body from crash forces and will keep them safe from getting injured (proved in 96%).
2. Washington Car Seat Laws for Forward Facing Child (2-4 Years)
Washington state car seat laws for forward-facing kid states that:
Every child riding in forward-facing car seats will be harnessed with 5-point harness system until they have crossed the age (4+), weight (60+ lbs.), and height (57+ inches) limit for that car seat
Extended rear facing is considered better for toddlers until they are almost 4 years of age.
PS: they would ask for forward facing, however, for their safety, it is better to ride rear-facing for as long as 4 years, and to keep them entertained, you can take ideas from the article “what to do when baby cries while driving?”
3. Washington Booster Seat Law 2022
Defined by the Washington state booster seat law,
A child older than 4 years and 57 inches in height will be allowed to ride in booster car seats
Booster car seats height limit can vary ending upon its model, brand, and style i.e.
- High back booster seat: 35+”
- Backless booster car seat: 59+”
Booster Seat Requirements WA:
As recommended by the AAP:
Minimum requirements for a booster seat:
- Age limit: 4 years
- Weight limit: 40+ lbs.
- Height limit: 35″
Maximum requirements for a booster seat:
- Age limit: 10 years
- Weight limit: 120 lbs.
- Height limit: 59″
- The parents can use backless booster seats only if they have a proper headrest with vehicle seats
Note: if a vehicle seat doesn’t have a headrest to protect your child’s head, neck, and shoulders in case of a car accident, they should use high-back booster seats.
- High-back booster seats can be installed with or without a latch.
For your interest: How to install a car seat without latch system?
4. Seat Belt Laws Washington DC
Seat belt laws in Washington State require you to
Allow your child for a car seat belt when they have outgrown the booster car seat age and height limit i.e. 12+ years and 59+ inches
Note: for children older than 13 and elders, all should wear a seat belt as long as the vehicle is moving or they are on the road.
5 Car Seat Rules Washington DC
Aside from the basic car seat laws, there are some rules that should also be followed while traveling with children.
1. Washington car seat laws violation penalties
When you have to go down the road with a child in Washington, you must have to make sure that they are harnessed in their proper car seats accurately.
For further knowledge: How soon can a newborn travel long distance by car?
In case of car seat law violation, you will be charged a fine of $112 per child who is not wearing either seat belt or not harnessed.
Note: if the guilty proves that they would not violate the car seat law again and would harness their children in their car seat, they would not have to pay the fine (this is applicable after the first attempt of violation and not or never again).
2. Can you smoke with a child in the car?
If you are living in Washington and traveling somewhere, be careful about the child safety laws that state:
(Nobody (the driver, parents, passengers) is allowed to smoke in the car in the presence of children
Cigarette smoke is highly dangerous for your child’s health, especially for newborn babies and infants. It may cause serious respiratory problems in them, and long-term exposure may lead to threatening diseases such as cancer, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), etc.
3. Can you leave a child alone in the car in Washington DC?
Under Washington car seat laws:
Leaving a minor or a child under 16 years in a car unattended either by the parents, driver (whoever operating the car), or caregivers will be unlawful
Note: The children have adventurous nature, they always wanted to explore something that amuses them. It is highly risky to leave them alone in the car.
Related: Can you feed a baby in a car seat?
4. Can I install an infant seat on the front seat in Washington DC?
Under Washington car seat laws, a child above 13 years of age is allowed to ride in the front seat with a vehicle seat belt and an active airbag.
Note: installation of baby car seats in the front passenger seat is highly dangerous for children of age below 4 years. In case you have to install a car seat in the front seat you should follow the accurate restraint system and never forget to deactivate the airbag.
The topic of Interest: Does car seat go behind driver or passenger?
5. What are the Washington car seat laws for Taxis or rented vehicles?
The Taxis, public transport buses, company vehicles, school buses, or other rented vehicles which are operated by the workers and have to stop multiple times are exempted from the car seat laws in Washington.
Postal mail wagons and delivery vehicles are also included in the few exemptions made by Washington State.
Child Safety Help Centers in Washington
In case you have met an accident in Washington, or you need to check your car seat, you can go to the following places for help:
- City of Bothell Car seat Inspections
- Washington State Booster Seat Coalition Stations
- NHTSA car seat inspection Center
- Safe Kids Washington Stations
- Seattle’s Children Car Seat Checks
- District Department of Transportation Free Car Seat Inspection Stations
Here at the end of our discussion, we hope that you have learned the rules that you have to follow according to the age, weight, and height of your child.
So if you are planning to visit Washington or are a resident of Washington, you can follow Washington car seat laws to avoid any difficulty there.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the front seat laws Washington DC?
Under front seat law Washington, babies of age 0-2 years will ride rear-facing, 2-4 years old are allowed to face forward in cars eats, while the children of age above 6 will use booster car seats until they have grown to 12 years old and then they are allowed to sit in the front seat with a vehicle seat belt.
What is the booster seat age Washington?
Child car seat laws state that the safest high-back booster seat age Washington will be 6-to-8+ years. After 8 years of age, your child can use backless booster seats with the vehicle seat belt.
What is the front seat age Washington?
The law of front seat age in Washington tells that you are not allowed to let your child ride in the front passenger seat until they are at least 13 years old.
Washington car seat laws for medically unfit children?
There are certain exemptions in Washington DC car seat laws. One of them is for the medically unfit child. It states that if a child has some medical reasons for not using the car seat, they will not be subjected to a penalty and they must have medical documentation with them.