Maryland car seat law takes effect Saturday

A law in Maryland about children’s car seats goes into effect Saturday. It aims to clear up some confusion about the type of car seat that should be used.

“We want to keep our youngest children in the vehicle as safe as possible,” said Chrissy Nizer, the administrator of Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration. “If there’s a crash, being rear-facing is much more protection for them — and that’s why we encourage it up to age 2, and certainly as long as possible that the child is able to comfortably sit in that rear-facing seat.”



Nizer said car seats can sometimes be a challenge.

“We know just from doing various educational events that there’s a lot of confusion about how long to keep children rear-facing,” said Nizer. “Most parents and guardians, grandparents — they want to do the right thing.”

Nizer said crash statistics show that a car seat can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers when they’re installed correctly. It’s one reason that, while some laws use punishment as a deterrent, that’s not the case here.

Once the law takes effect on Saturday, Oct. 1, “only a written warning is issued after the first violation,” said Nizer.

“This is not about giving anyone a citation,” Nizer added. “It’s really about safety for our young children … it would be that warning to allow them time to either get that proper car seat or change the installation around to rear-facing.”

The law states that “children must be kept rear-facing until at least two years of age, unless the child meets or exceeds the height and weight on the seat’s guidelines. Having a seat that properly fits the child is also another important consideration.”

The law brings Maryland in line with laws across 16 other states, including Virginia, plus D.C.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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