Car Seat Checks

Technician Performing a Car Seat CheckThe Lynden Police Department has a Certified Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) who can assist you with ensuring that your child's car seat is correctly installed, and also, that your child is properly restrained in the car seat. Please call 360-354-2828 during regular business hours to make an appointment with our CPST. We are happy to help you with your car seat installation and answer questions free of charge.

Washington State Seat Belt Law

The Washington State Seat Belt Law requires:

  • All vehicle occupants to be properly restrained in all seating positions.
  • The driver is responsible for seeing that all children under the age of 16 are properly secured.
  • Passengers 16 years of age and older are responsible for themselves and may receive their own ticket if they are not properly restrained.

Washington State Child Restraint Law

The Washington State Child Restraint Law requires:

  • Children under age 13 years old be transported in the back seat "when it is practical to do so".
  • Children up to their 8th birthday, unless they are 4 feet 9 inches tall (57 inches), must be transported in a child restraint system.
  • The restraint system (infant seat, child safety seat, or booster) must be used according to the car seat and vehicle manufacturers instructions.
  • Vehicles equipped with lap-only seat belts are exempt from the requirements of the booster seat.
  • Children 8 years of age or at least 4 feet 9 inches who wear a seat belt must be using it correctly.

5-Step Test

Try this 5-Step Test to learn when the adult seat belt properly fits your child:

  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?
  2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat without slouching?
  3. Does the lap belt stay on the top part of the child's thigh's?
  4. Is the shoulder belt centered on the chest and shoulder?
  5. Can the child stay seated this way for the whole trip?

If you say no to any of these questions, or if your child puts the shoulder part of the seat belt under their arm or behind their back, your child still needs a booster seat.

Expectation from a Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician

What should you, as a caregiver, expect from a CPS Technician?

The car seat installation experience is an interactive one. As the caregiver, you should leave confident that your child's seat is installed correctly and that you are comfortable reinstalling and using it correctly. To ensure that you have the best experience you should prepare for an education.

  • If expecting, schedule an appointment 1 to 2 months prior to Mom's due date. Many CPS Technicians and their agencies require appointments several weeks in advance and some moms deliver early.
  • If your child is already born, know your child's weight and height.
  • If your child is already born, bring your child with you. If possible, also bring another adult to help watch the child while you are learning.
  • Using the Child Car Seat Instructions, install the seat into your vehicle prior to your appointment.
  • Look up "Child Safety Seats" in your Vehicle Owner's Manual. You will learn how a child's car seat should be installed in your car. The Car Seat Manual may not reference the requirements specific to your vehicle.
  • Bring the Car Seat Instructions and the Vehicle Owner's Manual with you to your appointment!
  • Be prepared to learn, not just watch the CPS Technician install the car seat. They're trained to teach you, not install it for you.

This one-on-one education typically takes 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the car seat and the vehicle. The CPS Technician should take all the time necessary to ensure that you feel competent and confident in re-securing the car seat into the vehicle and re-buckling your child into the car seat on your own.

Check Your Technician's Certification

Card your tech! Ask to see proof of his or her current certification.

During the Car Seat Check Up

During the check up, a competent CPS Technician will:

  • Fill out a checklist form (including car seat type, location in vehicle, misuse observations, if any, etc.).
  • Review car seat selection appropriate for your child's age, size, and review factors affecting proper use.
  • Review the Car Seat Instructions and Vehicle Owner's Manual with the caregiver and ensure that both are being followed correctly.
  • Ensure that an appropriate seating position in the vehicle is being used, especially when using LATCH.
  • Check the car seat for recalls, visible damage and an expiration date.
  • Have you install the car seat(s) correctly using either the seat belt or LATCH system. You are encouraged to ask to learn how to install the seat with either options or in different seating positions.
  • Discuss the next steps for each child, such as when to move to the next type of car seat.
  • Discuss the benefits of everyone riding properly restrained, including all adults.
  • Discuss safety in and around the vehicle.
  • Discuss your state laws and best practice recommendations for occupant safety.

Following the Check Up

After the check up, ensure you can say yes to all of these questions:

  • Did you perform the installation?
  • Do you feel confident about installing and using the car seat correctly?
  • Were your questions answered? If not, were you given direction as to who you should contact or will the CPS Technician follow up with you?