More and more states are adopting laws requiring children to remain in rear-facing carseats until at least 2 years old. The most recent is Virginia, which has a new law going into effect July 1, 2019.
Although Virginia’s law will require kids to rear-face until 2, a clause in the law makes it a bit less potent than many others: Kids can forward-face as soon as they meet the height and weight minimums prescribed by the seat. Since most seats have 20- or 22-pound minimums to forward-face, this law doesn’t change much in a practical sense.
It’s important to note, though, that some seats do have a 2-year minimum to ride forward-facing, and since Virginia requires kids to be properly secured, people with those seats couldn’t forward-face before then…although that would have been true under the existing law as well.
The law also provides exemptions for medical reasons, but people must carry documentation from a physician explaining why the child can’t use a carseat as required by law.
Fines for violating the law remain the same: $50 for the first offense and up to $500 for subsequent offenses.
Rear-facing beyond a year doesn’t need to be expensive. Most people will need a convertible car seat anyway, and there are many inexpensive models that can keep kids rear-facing for a long time. Virginia also has a robust Low-Income Safety Seat Program to provide seats to those who qualify.
Although Virginia’s law lacks the teeth of some other rear-facing-until-2 laws, hopefully it will help people understand the importance of rear-facing and will encourage them to do so.