By on April 23, 2019

If memory serves correctly, your author was approaching a height of 5’4″ as he neared his 12th birthday. Still, even before that early growth spurt, transportation to and from various locales meant fastening a lap belt in the back seat of my dad’s Ford Fairmont, assuming no one had called shotgun.

It was a simpler — and much more dangerous — era for youthful passengers, despite being a move up in safety from generations that came before. Today, height-challenged kids in the great state of Washington are staring at a future that promises even greater levels of embarrassment, all in the name of safety.

On April 19th, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law an update to the state’s Child Passenger Restraint Law mandating that children under 4’9″ must sit in a rear booster seat until the age of 12 — or perhaps later. Previously, the age ceiling was 8.

Again, if memory serves correctly, I was in Grade 5 leading up to my 12th birthday, and we were already learning “health” in class (a precursor to the sex ed that started in Grade 6). The updated regulations are meant to reflect new studies on the impact of side- and front-impact crashes on passengers of small stature.

“In head-on crashes, there are significantly fewer serious injuries and fatalities when toddlers are in rear-facing seats, which better protect their still-developing heads and necks. In older children, poorly fitted seatbelts are associated with injuries to the spine, intestines, head and neck,” the UW School of Medicine wrote in a release.

House Bill 1012 states that kids will be booster-bound “until the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belts fit properly, typically when the child is between the ages of eight and twelve years of age, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, or must be properly secured with the motor vehicle’s safety belt properly adjusted and fastened around the child’s body.”

Notice that the 12-year-old rule is a hazy one — the bill implies that older kids who don’t pass the height test may still need to use a booster.

The existing law that all kids under 13 must ride in the backseat remains. Children under the age of 2 must ride in a rear-facing child seat, while those aged 2 to at least 4 years are required to use a forward-facing child harness seat. After that, it’s booster time.

Washington’s new child restraint laws come into effect on January 1st of next year. Fail to comply, and you could face a fine.

[Source: CNN]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

54 Comments on “Short Washington Kids Face Increased Safety, Embarrassment Under New Law...”


  • avatar
    conundrum

    In most of Canada, have no idea about the US, school buses have no seatbelts whatsoever. But that’s safe. I guess. No doubt there are innumerable difficulties in engineering a seat belt system that suits five to 18 year-olds and which is operable by them without a course.

    Best thing to do is to keep the kids at home and never take them anywhere. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      NO seatbelts on school buses here in Tennessee either! Maybe everyone should be mandated to wear helmets, could even have built in intercom like the bikers wear!

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      School busses are designed so that the seats provide some level of containment.

      It’s unclear whether you could create a shoulder belt solution that works, so the alternative would be lap belts, which have their own problems.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Force = mass * acceleration.
      Benefits of seat belts do not outweigh the costs.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        A school bus is not a car. While I personally think that school buses probably should have at least lap belts in an ideal world, I was driving a bus that was rear-ended hard enough to total the car that hit me – and the only reason I really noticed was the cloud of steam behind me. Barely even felt it. This was a monocoque constructed coach, but same difference – they weigh about the same. Anything big enough to cause real acceleration to a bus is probably big enough that seatbelts won’t help THAT much. They might help in a rollover, they might not. Lady luck starts playing a huge part.

        My hometown tried them, and removed them after a kid fractured another kid’s skull with a buckle. Ultimately, school buses are incredibly safe per mile driven – you probably end up with more injuries from the little darlings clobbering each other with the belts.

        And then there is the cost factor too. Realistically there IS a very high cost to saving an additional life in these situations – especially when it isn’t a no brainer that you actually will. A quick google says that on average only seven kids a year are killed ON school buses in crashes each year. Imagine the cost to equip every bus in the country with seat belts, and the cost of the kids that hurt each other with them – guaranteed to be a lot more than seven…

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          I think there’s also the issue of getting kids off of a disabled bus quickly. Panicked kids may have difficulty removing lapbelts. That’s a problem if flames are spewing from the engine compartment.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Note I very much agree with you – just adding additional explanation.

        In an ideal world we would strap the little darlings in, but then we would need a bunch of expensive people on the bus monitoring the little [email protected] among them.

      • 0 avatar
        ultramatic

        Exactly what about that simple physics equation disproves the effectiveness of seatbelts?

        Seatbelts distribute forces exerted on the body during an impact to the parts of your body that can withstand those forces. The concept has been proven and born out by decades of studies involving human surrogates, cadavers, and volunteers.

        Seatbelts are dirt cheap compared to the value of lives saved over time (and injuries reduced.)

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    I drove my kids all over the place in an old WWII Army Jeep that had no seatbelts or for that matter any kind of safety equipment. Fortunately they survived.

    I’d probably be sent to prison if the nanny staters saw that today.

    Actually, how does that work today if you have your kids in an old car that seat belts and such weren’t even provided?

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      WA state law says cars that weren’t built with seat belts are exempt from child car seat laws.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      you know, a hell of a lot of kids died from s**t like that.

      amazing how susceptible dumb people are to survivorship bias.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Some died. A hell of a lot? Not really. Fatal accidents are very rare things to start with. Rarer today, sure, but still rare.

        There is probably a happy medium between six kids in the “way back” of Grandma’s station wagon completely unrestrained and a short 14yo being dropped off at High School in an M1 tank with no outward visibility with a rear-facing kid seat for her.

        Heck the safest thing you can probably do for your kid is NOT take them to school in your car at all and make them take the bus. It’s WAAAAAAAAY safer that way.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          I’m just tired of old f***s acting like because nothing bad happened to them when they were kids, that nothing bad happened to any kid.

          just because something was the done thing back in the day doesn’t mean it’s to be done. otherwise we’d still be doping infants up with laudanum.

          • 0 avatar
            ultramatic

            JimZ, thank you.

            Sometimes “very rare” events can still have huge cost to society. The solution is not to live in a bubble but to mitigate risk in an intelligent way.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          The kids who died in car accidents in the 1980s (when I was a kid) aren’t around to complain about it.

          The living adults who say they survived romping around in the cargo area of the family station wagon are a biased sample, for obvious reasons.

          However, I like to point out that carseat safety wasn’t the biggest problem kids faced in my dad’s generation, or mine. The bad old days were pretty bad.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Just looked at the picture of the rear seats. What happens when you boost the kids heads above the rear headrests, if there are any? Won’t that result in injuries to the spine, head and neck? Do they intend to specify a complete drop in seat with its own head rest? How are you going to make that happen? Outlaw small cars?

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      Britax makes seats specifically for older children whose parents want the extra protection.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        I had no idea you could get a car seat for a 120# kid. Some of those look like they have their own HANS devices. But, is Washington State effectively outlawing small cars for parents of sub-teenage children?

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          My wife is a CPST. There are more options than you’d think — including for big special needs kids.

          No, these.laws don’t outlaw small cars. They just mandate the use of safety equipment in the car you already have. Just like how a motorcycle helmet law doesn’t outlaw motorcycles — or dangerous behavior while riding. Safety gear isn’t a substitute for good judgement — even if safety gear can help reduce the injuries & fatalities from poor judgement a bit.

          The injury & fatality statistics are usually on the side of the law, though, because the people who care about this sort of thing enough to get a law passed typically do at least some research.

  • avatar

    It used to be you could have three kids and drive a car.

    Now you have to buy a three row SUV or minivan if you want three kids. There is no other option. These car seats have become so big that they require huge amounts of cabin space just to get your kids in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      You have to buy certain European-style car seat models that are less wide. Our neighbor has 3 kids and they have 3 car seats in their 2-row GLE350. We use the same car seats in our MDX in our 2nd row for our 2 kids and the right-side seat is completely available.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        I was able to fit a full on car seat and two boosters in the back seat of a 2011 Maxima and 2014 Mazda 6. Barely, but possible. If you have two actual full on car seats, there is no way to get a 3rd seating position in a sedan. If you have to rear face a car seat, you options are also pretty limited because in a sedan that would typically mean using the center position.

        Thankfully, I have avoided this car seat problem by having giant kids. My son was 6 foot tall at 12 years old and my 10 year old daughter is 5’5″.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I remember leaving the airport in Istanbul, and gazing in wonder as a family of 5 packed into a Fiesta hatchback. Mom, dad, grandma, and two kids. I wondered how they did it, and then I realized they weren’t constrained by safety seat laws. So that’s how the rest of the world gets by with using compacts as family cars. With them, grandma’s riding the bus home.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        On a business trip to Vietnam a few years ago, I routinely saw families of 4-5 people on a single motor scooter. Sometimes with packages. Ingenious, really, the way they managed to get all of them on.

        Not to mention the guys who used them as cargo carriers, often with boxes piled up in front of them so high that they couldn’t see the road ahead.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Either an xUV or pickup with full doors.

      My boss and his wife just had their third, and two boosters plus the full seat fit fine in his Avalanche, which he sold to his brother to pay off the Avalanche so his wife could step up to a Traverse. He’s now driving his wife’s old Journey, which was a tighter fit, but could still accommodate all three across.

      His boss has had right-of-first-refusal to buy my 2013 Accord, and my prediction is that it’ll fit all three of his girls in the back seat (one booster) just fine — he’s going to try it out this weekend.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      There are carseats which will so three across in many cars. You just have to shop carefully.

      We’ve managed to do a 3-across setup in our 2016 Honda Civic, door instance. The installation wasn’t as nice as loading kids into a minivan, but it will do when needed. It’ll be easier when our.kids are all old enough to be forward facing.

      Talk to my wife, or any other CPST. Or go to the carseat forums. Yes, there are carseats forums, just like there are car forums. It’s a different crowd from all y’all, but no less entheusiastic about their topic.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Big Car Seat lobby strikes again!

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Finally, somebody’s thinking of the children!

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      This. Incredible Bull$ hit that literally every child seat, stroller, crib, etc, etc comes with an expiration date, cannot be resold, gifted, donated, etc.

      You seriously think policy is “thinking of the kids first”. I threw out a grand worth of strollers, a grand worth of car seats, a crib worth at least a grand because I couldnt even give it away to some kid that needs it.

      I live in Michigan where more than 50% of births are paid for by Medicaid. Im sure its a similar statistic nationally. You really think these people dont need any of this expensive stuff donated for their children?

      I can appreciate the safety aspect, checking for recalls, damage, etc, but this industry is a racket, plain and simple.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Carseats *can* be gifted or used beyond the expiration date. They can probably be sold, too, if the buyer doesn’t care.

        Using them beyond the expiration date just goes against safety-related best practices.

        Like we tell pilots who don’t care.about the rules that the rest of us have worked out after examining a century’s worth of plane crashes: when you do that, you’re a test pilot. Are you really up for that?

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        There was a bit of dustup on our towns “facebook moms” page last year about this (pro tip, avoid “facebook moms” pages). Someone was being a real s–t about parents posting up used car-seats, pointing out that this wasn’t allowed. I have zero respect for that particular rule set, and I made a point of leaving our outgrown seats right on the street where I knew they would be picked up (Oh woops, not garbage day?). Now the ones that were in a crash I destroyed, bc I’m not a prick, but that’s a different story.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    In Sweden ( the birthplace of auto safety in my opinion), rear facing is mandatory until age 4.
    Our friends were in a horrible head on collision.While the 2 year old rear facing was completely unharmed the 4 year old in forward facing booster almost died,was in the hosp almost a month. Fortunately she’s fine now.
    Our son is in the 90% for ht/wt, and everyone kept asking us how long we were going to keep him facing rear. We did until he physically couldn’t fit in the seat anymore.

  • avatar
    theBrandler

    Here’s a question, I haven’t looked it up yet, but does anyone actually keep statistics on how many kids are killed and seriously injured in the USA every year by auto accidents?

    Has the rate of deaths and injuries gone down relative to the number of transported youths over the last 50 years?

    I’ll try to look that up tonight, but I will note on statistics I’m more familiar with, general deaths by car accident. They haven’t really gone down in the last 30 years – despite all the safety tech. At what point do we stop and realize we can’t make this better, be happy it’s as safe as it is, and start focusing on better driver’s education and training?

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      If number of deaths have stayed constant, others factors have not stayed constant (increased horsepower, increased use of electronic distractions, more cars on the road). Some of these could be mitigated by better driver’s ed like you said.

    • 0 avatar
      360joules

      NHTSA & CDC stats show that fatalities per miles driven have decreased over the last 30 years. The biggest improvement has come with seatbelt use because even a 20-25 mph collision can eject a passenger through a front windshield and make her/him into road pizza. So long as you stay belted up in the safety cage of a modern passenger car you will survive astonishing collisions. You may suffer injury, but you will live to blog another day. The poster who called out the “my kids survived my death-trap Jeep lived” was reasonable & not a troll. In the 1970’s I rode in the beds of pickup trucks, sat in old cars without headrests, and rode in crappy VW buses. Thank God I was never in a wreck in any of these things because the odds would not have been in my favor. But my bias comes from working in emergency trauma bays and seeing what the meat wagons bring in from the mad roads of rural America.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The reasons for the improvements in auto safety are obvious.

        Here’s a crash test of a 1959 Chevy Bel Air vs. a 2009 Chevy Malibu:
        https://youtu.be/xtxd27jlZ_g

        That’s as close as an apples-to-apples comparison as you can get across 50 years of automotive technology. I’d choose the Malibu with my seatbelt on, thankyouverymuch.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    What does an Uber/Lyft driver do?

    What is their accountability/responsibility?

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Riders have to bring their own seat. Certain cities supposedly have to option of ordering a Uber/Lyft with a car seat already installed.

      We bought these car seat vest things for travel instead of hauling our heavy car seats with us. They’re approved car seats but not meant to be worn on a regular basis.

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    So a question about Euro wagons with the rear facing 3rd-row child seats – take the E-class wagon for instance – I read somewhere that these seats do not have the latch for car seats, but the seats for designed for children use only. Anybody would one of these setups know how the car seat rules work with these seats? Do you just use the seat belts to strap in the car seat?

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      latch isn’t mandatory, and it’s only recommended for kids under 40lbs. Every car seat I’ve owned has had a latch and a seat belt hook up option. I think the important thing is not to do both, pick one strategy and stick to it, as their crash test modeling relies on that.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Auto manufacturers need to engineer a solution that allows their vehicles to handle people of varying heights. Volvo already does this with the built in booster seats you can get on certain models – unfortunately those are NOT standard, and it’s often hard to find cars equipped with them.

  • avatar
    David Mc Lean

    Jay Inslee is a leftist fool.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Overreaction is what government does best. Solve the problem – then beat the dead horse.

    Forty years ago, people smoked everywhere – in elevators, even. Stupid. So we made people smoke outside. Smart. Now, many public parks – outdoor parks – have banned smoking entirely. Stupid.

    Fifty years ago, the threshold for DUI was 0.15. Stupid. Then they lowered it to 0.10. Smart. Then they lowered it to 0.08…then 0.06 in some jurisdictions…and of course there’s a movement for 0.00. Stupid.

    Forty years ago, all kids rode unbelted. Stupid. Then they required child seats for babies and boosters for kids up to 4 years old or 40 lbs. Smart. Then they raised the booster requirement to 8 years old…and now the idiocy in this article.

    Fifty years from cars having no emissions controls whatsoever, to Dieselgate.

    “There oughta be a law” always becomes “there oughta be a stricter law.”

    • 0 avatar
      Sceptic

      But did “they” ever ask the people(ie put it on the ballot) before doing all those things? Think about it. So much for the “democracy”.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Maybe smoking was banned in parks because people were tired of sitting down on a park bench, only to be surrounded by smelly cigarette butts all over the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      What’s stupid about making it as hard as possible to smoke? It’s a habit with no positive effects besides feeding an addiction, with a huge societal cost.

      More to the point, smokers smell. Badly. Most of them litter, which sometimes causes fires (literally witnessed this happen within the past week, and we barely got the fire out before things got bad).

      Smoking is more antisocial than farting in the elevator.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        Smoking is truly one of those things that really should be banned. There is just no good that can come of it. If it wasnt addictive, its recreational benefits could at least be supported. But overall, it costs society so much.

        That being said, its not the only thing out there that really should be banned on public policy considerations. Guns, alcohol, gambling. All things that probably do more harm than good, yet three things that will never be banned in this country.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Smoking is obnoxious AF.

      It’s one of those things that made me question my libertarian knee-jerk reactions. Virginia instituted a smoking ban in public places, and I *loved* not having to put up with that BS. Only problem is that it went against my political philosophy. So I changed my political philosophy.

      Smoking is obnoxious AF.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Foley

        Between us, I hate tobacco smoking too. But if we let the Nanny State ban everything other people do that we don’t like, sooner or later they’ll come for something we like (in my case, cars, motorcycles, hamburgers, and firearms).

        I’m wasting my time – I’m sure you’d like to ban me from enjoying those things too. Every time I’m tempted to argue on the Internet, I should just go buy another box of ammo instead.

  • avatar
    Windy

    I wonder if other old farts like myself recall (in the 50s when very few cars had seatbelts) that as toddlers our mothers right arm would automatically sweep to the left to restrain us as the brakes were applied…

    I doubt there was any conception that their 40 lb toddler would have the apparent weight of several hundred pounds in even a low speed crash with perhaps just 6 gs of impact force….

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Right just because we did things that way in the past doesn’t mean it is right to do it that way now.

      I was at fault for a low speed collision with my wife’s Terrain and the whole family was in the car. I’m pretty happy that both my daughter and son were in child seats that were properly installed and secure.

      It would be nice if more manufacturers would offer the built in child seats for kids who are on that edge between the forward facing seat and a regular seat.

      https://forum.ih8mud.com/attachments/child-seats-jpg.913263/

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • tomLU86: It is a very competitive world. Today, automakers feel compelled to take relatively larger risks for...
  • Rutlefan1: @ ToddAtlas, since I can’t reply to your post it seems. I have seen ZHPs with autos but I agree that...
  • saturnotaku: I was a whisker away from plunking down on the same car. Loved the performance of the 2.0T/10-speed...
  • FerrariLaFerrariFace: This sounds suspiciously similar to the way the Pontiac Aztek made it through to production.
  • Lie2me: Will this also eliminate the rear passenger head banging that normally occurs?

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States