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A bill passed by the 2018 Virginia General Assembly and signed by Governor Ralph Northam that will take effect July 1, 2019, requires children remain rear-facing in child safety seats until age two, or until the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device.

“Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages one to 13, which is why it is so important for parents to select the right child safety seat and use it properly,” Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said. “The forces during a crash can be deadly. A rear-facing car seat is designed to move with the child in the event of a crash, helping to protect his or her head, neck, and spinal cord.”

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative, added, “Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend all children ride rear-facing as long as possible. You may think your child is ready to face forward, but for optimal protection, it’s important to keep your child rear-facing until he or she is at the highest weight or height specified in the manufacturer’s instructions.”

The AAP and NHTSA also recommend the following when installing a child safety seat:

• Follow the installation instructions provided by the child safety seat manufacturer.

• Position the harness straps on the shoulders and chest and flat against the child’s body. The straps should be snug enough that you cannot pinch any slack in the straps at the child’s shoulder.

• Position the chest clip at armpit level.

• Make sure the safety seat does not move forward or side-to-side more than one inch.

Virginia’s child passenger safety laws require all children under age eight be properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat, regardless of weight or height. For more information on child safety seats, including selecting and installing a seat, visit dmvNOW.com.