Motor vehicle accidents are the major cause of death for children ages 1-13. Moreover, children riding in car seats are at least 50% more likely to survive a serious crash than those without proper restraints. All parents want to keep their children safe, on and off the road. However, Michigan’s car and booster seat laws can be confusing. Here’s a helpful guide.
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What are the legal requirements for using car seats and booster seats?
- Children under the age of 8 or less than 4′ 9″ tall must ride in a car seat or booster seat.
- Children younger than 4 must ride in an appropriate car seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
- If all available rear seats are occupied by children under 4, a child under 4 may ride in the front seat.
- If a child is riding in the front seat in a rear-facing car seat, the airbag must be turned off.
- All passengers under 16 must use a seat belt in any seating position, front or rear.
- Passengers of any age must wear seat belts in the front seat.
Which car or booster seat is right for my child?
Here are the four main categories of car seats, booster seats and restraints and the requirements for each:
Rear-facing car seats
These seats are required for babies and toddlers under the age of 2 unless they have reached the maximum weight or height limit designated by the car seat manufacturer.
Forward-facing car seats
These are for children 2 or older, or those who have exceeded the weight and height limits of their rear-facing seat.
These are for children whose weight or height exceeds the limits of their forward-facing seat. Booster seats are important because children from 4 – 8 are often uncomfortable wearing seatbelts. As a result, they may not use them properly, which can result in serious injuries in the event of a crash.
Children who have outgrown the height and weight limits of their booster seat are required by law to use seat belts. Under Michigan law, drivers, front-seat passengers and passenger 15 years old or younger must wear seat belts.
Safety tips for using car seats, booster seats and seat belts
- Back seat passengers are not legally required to wear seatbelts. However, police and traffic safety experts advise every driver and passenger to buckle up, regardless of age or seat location.
- Because airbags can cause severe injuries, children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat. In addition, whenever possible, they should use the lap/shoulder belt rather than the lap-only belt.
- Secure seat belts across the hips and shoulder rather than across the stomach or neck.
- Do not let children put the shoulder belt behind their back or under an arm.
- Make sure harness straps fit snugly against the child.
- Fasten the chest clip level with the child’s armpits.
- Attach the car seat securely to the vehicle, making sure it does not move more than one inch from side-to-side.
- Install car seats and booster seats using the instructions from the car seat manufacturer and the vehicle owner’s manual.
- If possible, avoid purchasing a used child safety seat. Otherwise, have it inspected by a car dealer or local police or fire personnel.
- Replace any safety seat that has been involved in a crash.
- For help installing car seats or to make sure yours complies with current laws and safety standards, visit your local police or fire station.
Michigan car and booster seat laws are complicated, but finding the right attorney is simple.
Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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