VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A new law goes into effect on July 1 that requires children to ride rear-facing car seats until the age of 2, or until they meet the minimum weight standards for a forward-facing seat.

The exact wording is as follows:

(Effective July 1, 2019) Any person who drives on the highways of Virginia any motor vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1968, shall ensure that any child, up to age eight, whom he transports therein is provided with and properly secured in a child restraint device of a type which meets the standards adopted by the United States Department of Transportation. 

Such child restraint device shall not be forward-facing until at least (i) the child reaches two years of age or (ii) the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device. Further, child restraint devices shall be placed in the back seat of a vehicle. 

In the event the vehicle does not have a back seat, the child restraint device may be placed in the front passenger seat only if the vehicle is either not equipped with a passenger side airbag or the passenger side airbag has been deactivated.

Georjeane Bluming, a car seat expert with AAA, told 13News Now that when children ride rear-facing, they are safer!

"Think about it, instead of being thrown forward against the harness like an adult would be or even a child in a forward-facing seat, a rear-facing seat protects the whole child's head and neck and torso much more safely," she explained. "It's a flat surface that they are being pushed into."

The current law says children under the age of 7 must be secured in a safety seat. It's doesn't specify how old the child should be or their weight to switch to a front-facing car seat. 

Under the new law, kids under the age 7 still have to be secured in a car seat but now children must ride rear-facing until the age of 2 or until they meet the minimum weight standards for a forward-facing seat.

"The reason we added that clause is because we know, because there may not be children that can't stay like that because of their size. We want to make sure that we are enforcing that best practice as much as possible,” said Blumling.

Bluming added that if parents need help installing the seat properly, don't hesitate to reach out!

"AAA is a 'fit station site' as it's called, and parents can call and come in anytime and we will give them a hand with their car seat."

AAA is holding a free child safety seat check-up event on Saturday, June 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sam’s Club Parking lot on 2444 Chesapeake Square Ring Road in Chesapeake. AAA’s NHTSA-certified child passenger technicians are offering free safety seat inspections and advice for parents and caregivers.