Kids can’t sit in front seat until they’re 13

Joann Hart of Everett writes: My 12-year-old daughter has been hounding me for two years to sit in the front seat of our car and I have put her off.

I’ve found conflicting rules on this issue. One says 12 years of age is old enough and another says 13. So what is the legal age for chi

ldren to ride in the front seat?

Also, what is the penalty for a violation, and is it a secondary offense or may a driver be stopped and ticketed for it?

Trooper Keith Leary of the State Patrol responds: State law (subsection C of RCW 46.61.687) reads as follows: “The driver of a vehicle transporting a child who is under 13 years old shall transport the child in the back seat positions in the vehicle where it is practical to do so.”

The penalty for not having a child in a proper restraint system or seat is $124. You may be stopped for a violation of laws pertaining to seat belts or child restraint. It is a primary offense. We want to make sure motorists are putting their children first when it comes to buckling up correctly.

A placard with diagrams illustrating safe transportation of children in cars may be found at the Washington Traffic Safety Commission website.

Richard Bohot of Silver Lake writes: I have recently witnessed several high-speed rear end collisions on Highway 526 (the Boeing Freeway) around 2 p.m. basically in the same spot.

The decision to change the lane configuration on the on-ramp from Seaway Boulevard to eastbound Highway 526 was made for safety originally but it has made it extremely dangerous when I get off work with the thousands of other Boeing workers.

The reason is that the new gore point extends about a quarter of a mile farther down Highway 526 than before, and every day I see drivers cutting across the gore point in front of cars coming from the west at freeway speed. They’re coming up a hill and I’m not sure they can see the drivers cutting in front of them.

Before the changes, the afternoon backup was usually past the on-ramp toward the west which actually made it easier to merge since the traffic was stopped. Now the backup is farther ahead, usually at the end of the gore point. The collisions I’ve seen are all at the same spot, just before the gore point ends.

I have taken that on-ramp for 15 years and not seen a single collision until the latest change in the on-ramp configuration. To me and I’m sure many others this change needs to be re-evaluted. Thank you.

Bronlea Mishler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: Our engineers have been monitoring the ramp since making the changes last summer. Engineers closely observed traffic flow on the ramp during the peak afternoon commute this spring.

Our review shows that the changes have improved traffic flow and safety on the Seaway ramp and on Highway 526 for the majority of the day. We know that congestion and delays on southbound Seaway Boulevard during the busy afternoon commute can cause ramp traffic to slow down, but at this time, we do not plan to make additional changes to the ramp.

If you have immediate concerns about drivers making illegal or unsafe moves at the ramp, we would encourage you to call 911 and report the problem to the local police department.

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