Child Passenger Safety

The Legislature recognizes that many deaths of children under the age of 16 years can be eliminated if they use an appropriate child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt.

By law, it is the responsibility of the driver of the vehicle to ensure that all children under the age of 16 are properly restrained in accordance with the regulations below.

Washington’s Child Restraint Law, RCW 46.61.687, was amended June 1, 2007 and requires:

•Children from birth to age 8, unless they reach 4 feet 9 inches tall first, be in an approved child restraint, for example a car seat or booster seat that is utilized according to the child restraint and vehicle manufacturer's instructions.
•Because a booster seat requires both the lap AND shoulder belt, children over 40 pounds riding in a vehicle with lap only seat belts must wear the belt properly but are excused from the requirement to use a booster seat.
•When the child reaches either age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall they must be able to properly wear the vehicle's shoulder and lap belt or continue to ride in a child restraint.  (The seat belt law also requires proper fit the shoulder belt should never be worn across the neck, behind the back or under the arm as this can cause serious injury in a crash. This is true for people of all ages.**
•Children under 13 years of age shall ride in the back seat, when practical. 
** The seat belt properly fits across the lap and the shoulder strap crosses the center of the chest.

The "5 Steps for Kids" recommendations are:

1.Rear-facing seats in the back seat from birth to at least one year old and at least 20 pounds, preferably to 30 pounds.
2.Forward-facing toddler seats in the back seat for children 30 to 40 pounds
3.Booster seats in the back seat in a lap and shoulder belt position from 40 pounds until the seat belt fits correctly (usually at least 4'9").
4.Seat belts for children taller than 4'9".
5.All children 12 and under shall ride in the back seat.