Booster seats until middle school? Washington begins new regulations

OLYMPIA, Washington (KTRK) -- Children in Washington will soon have to use a booster seat until they are almost in middle school.

The new regulations will require children under 2 years old to use a rear-facing car seat. Children ages 2 to at least 4 years will use a forward-facing child harness seat and do so as long as possible, until they reach the seat's height and weight limits.

Children older than 4, but shorter than 4'9" who have outgrown the child harness seat, must use booster seats. Most kids will need a booster seat until 10 to 12 years of age.

Drivers can be ticketed if a passenger under 16 is not using the correct car seat, booster seat, or seat belt based on their age, height or weight.

Proponents of the new regulations say this will help prevent crash injuries in children.

Dr. Beth Ebel, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, says in older children, poorly fitted seatbelts are associated with injuries to the spine, intestines, head and neck.

Ebel says such injuries can be prevented by the proper booster seat, which correctly positions the seat belt against the child until he or she is tall enough to use the vehicle's seat belt alone.

The updated law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
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