New Law Targets Pre-Teen Passengers

SPOKANE — Spokane Police and the Washington State Patrol have a new reason to pull over parents thanks to new legislation that requires children under the age of 13 to ride in the backseat.

This law has been on the books since last June and so with a one year grace period under their belts police officers are starting to enforce it.

“The reason for that is that the more car you can put between your child and the collision the more crash forces are absorbed by the car instead of your child’s body,” Spokane Police Officer Teresa Fuller said.

Half of all crashes involve head-on collisions and if high speeds are at work front seat riders slam into windshields, bodies warp steering wheels and the engine starts pushing its way into the passenger compartment. Officer Fuller says it’s the last place you want your kids.

“We did take a close look at those cars and the back seats are nearly completely intact with no intrusion whatsoever,” Officer Fuller said.

So now with the grace period over you’ve got to buckle up your pre-teens in the backseat.

One thing to note is that the difference between this new law and the law banning the use of cellphones while driving without a hands-free device – which will begin being enforced on July 1st – is that not having your pre-teen buckled up in back is a primary offense and can be the sole reason a police officer could pull you over.

The only exception to the new law is that if you have a pick-up truck or car where there is no back seat, but the statute specifies that when it’s practical to do so you need to follow the law.