Seat children properly

Published 8:57 pm Monday, September 22, 2008

No one will forget Britney Spears driving with her toddler on her lap and the subsequent shame that fell on the celebrity. The violation of not restraining her child properly in a moving vehicle set off alarms to every parent across the country who got wind of the star’s miscue.

There’s no doubt that most Virginians realize that allowing a child to ride shotgun or in the driver’s lap is in direct violation of Virginia’s child restraint law. But do we know all the requirements that fall under the law? Since this is National Child Passenger Safety Week, we thought it was appropriate to outline those requirements:

Children from birth to 12 months must ride in a child safety seat facing the rear.

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Children ages one through three should ride in a safety seat facing forward.

Children four to eight years old weighing more than 40 pounds should be restrained in a belt-positioning booster seat.

The penalties should also be noted:

First time offenders are subject to a civil penalty of $50.

Second time offenders are subject to a civil penalty of up to $500.

The real penalty occurs, though, when a child isn’t properly restrained and involved in an accident. It is the parent’s responsibility to securely restrain their children while operating a vehicle. Doing anything less is not only irresponsible, but unfortunate. The next time you see a qualified organization, such as a fire department, doing a child safety seat check, make sure you pull over and have your child’s seat looked at. It could save his life, and a lot of sorrow.