Did you know that more children between the ages of 1 and 13 die from injuries incurred in car crashes than from any other cause? According to the CDC, the recent annual data reports 636 children died in motor vehicle crashes and nearly 100,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents. What makes these statistics even more tragic is that 33% of those children were not buckled up.
We never want to put our children at risk, and failing to use the right car seat can do just that. Studies have shown that car seats reduce injury risks to children by 71% to 82%. Additionally, booster seats reduce these risks by 45% for children ages 4 to 8 compared to using a standard seat belt. That’s why it is so important for parents and caregivers to understand and follow Michigan car seat laws.Do You Have a Case?
Following is an overview of the Michigan car seat laws designed to protect infants and children whenever they ride in a motor vehicle.
Let’s begin with the laws relating to a child’s age and weight.
In Michigan, children under the age of 8, or those who are less than 4’ 9″ tall, must ride in a car seat or booster seat. This applies to children who meet one or both of these requirements.
Children who no longer satisfy one or both requirements are permitted to ride in a car without a safety seat. However, like all Michigan drivers and passengers, children should always wear seat belts.
Children whose weight or height exceeds the above limits for forward-facing seats must use a booster seat. Always make sure the booster seat is properly secured by the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt.
Children must use seat belts after they have outgrown the height and weight limits for booster seats. For maximum protection, children should use the lap/shoulder belt rather than the lap-only belt found in the back seats of certain vehicles.
Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends putting children younger than 13 in the back seat of the vehicle using the appropriate car seat or seat belt.
If a car has a rear seat (back seat), children under the age of 4 are required to be in a car seat in the rear seat of the vehicle. Additionally, if all rear seats are occupied by young children, then an exception is made for an additional child under 4 years old to ride in the front of the car using the appropriate car seat.
All babies and toddlers must ride in rear-facing car seats until they are 2 years old, or until they reach the maximum weight or height limit for the car seat.
Note: The airbag must be turned off if a rear-facing car seat is placed in the front seat.
Children 2 or older, or those who have exceeded the weight and height limits of their rear-facing seat, must use a forward-facing seat. Children should remain in this seat until they reach the maximum allowed height and/or weight limit.
Two additional Michigan seat belt laws worth mentioning are designed to protect older children and adults:
Parents and guardians should be aware of the following noteworthy exceptions to Michigan car seat laws:
Certain vehicles are not required by state or federal law to be equipped with seat belts. Surprisingly, taxis and buses, including school buses, are among these exceptions. Other exceptions include motorcycles, mopeds and other two-wheeled vehicles. Therefore, children riding in these vehicles are not subject to the Michigan car seat laws that apply to the majority of passenger vehicles.
Prior to 1965, car and truck manufacturers were not required to equip their vehicles with seat belts. Therefore, these vehicles are exempt from current Michigan car seat laws. However, parents should realize that allowing a child or young teen to ride without a car seat or seat belt is a dangerous practice.
In special circumstances, if a child is unable to use a car seat or booster seat due to a physical or medical condition, the Secretary of State may exempt the child from complying with the Michigan seat belt laws that would normally apply. In that instance, the Secretary of State may specify alternate means of protection for the exempted child.
Note: A physician’s note will be needed in order for the Secretary of State to grant a seat belt exemption to a child who is unable to use a car seat due to a medical or physical condition.
A child cannot be protected by a car seat that’s the wrong size or improperly installed. Here are the five most common car seat mistakes and how you can avoid them:
Straps should fit snugly against the child. When the straps are fastened, you should not be able to pinch any excess strap material. Be sure that harness straps lay flat, not twisted or knotted.
You should not be able to move a car seat more than one inch from side-to-side at the point where the car seat attaches to the vehicle.
Children should stay in their car seats until they exceed the height or weight limits of the seat according to the Michigan car seat laws outlined above.
Secure the chest clip level with the child’s armpits to ensure the straps remain in the correct position.
If a crash occurs, children under 13 can be seriously hurt by the force of an airbag.
For assistance installing car seats or determining whether they comply with Michigan law, visit your local police or fire station for free assistance.
Now let’s look at the laws pertaining to transporting children safely and lawfully in the front seat of a vehicle. Here are five questions parents most frequently ask regarding Michigan’s front seat laws.
Michigan law requires children under the age of 4 to ride in the rear seat(s) of the vehicle whenever possible. However, if the available rear seats are occupied by children under 4, then a child under 4 may ride in the front seat. The proper car seat or booster seat should always be used, regardless of which row a child is occupying.
For children 2 and under, parents should use a rear-facing car seat, unless the child exceeds the height and weight requirements specified by the seat manufacturer. In addition, the airbag must be turned off any time a child is riding in a rear-facing seat.
According to Michigan law, children who are between the ages of 4 and 8 may ride in the front, providing they are in the proper car or booster seat for their age and height.
Children who are at least 8 years old or at least 4’ 9″ inches tall may ride in the front seat of a car. Like all drivers and passengers, children who have outgrown a car seat or booster seat should always use a seat belt.
Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 13 should ride in the rear seat of a vehicle – using the appropriate car seat, booster seat or seat belt – for optimal protection.
Children between the ages of 4 and 8 may ride in a booster seat or child seat in the front seat of a car as long as the child meets the seat manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
However, as mentioned above, Michigan front seat laws allow a child under 4 to ride upfront when all available rear seats are occupied by other children under the age of 4. Additionally, the passenger-side airbag must be turned off whenever a child rides in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a vehicle.
While Michigan front seat laws allow children in front-facing car seats, booster seats or seat belts to ride in the front seat with the airbags on, it is not recommended. In a crash, airbags inflate quickly and forcefully. Therefore, small children could be injured if they are sitting too close to the dashboard. Therefore, the CDC and other traffic safety organizations recommend that children under the age of 13 should avoid sitting in the front seat whenever possible. If a child or teen must sit in the front seat, make sure they are using the appropriate car seat.
Those who have outgrown car seats and booster seats should use the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt.
In the front seat of a car, Michigan law requires drivers and passengers to wear seat belts, regardless of age. If a vehicle is pulled over, even for an unrelated reason, a police officer may issue a ticket if someone in the front seat is not buckled up.
Moreover, children and teens under 16 must also wear seat belts in the back seat(s) of a vehicle. Back seat passengers 16 and older are not legally required to wear seat belts. Nevertheless, passengers of all ages should always wear seat belts no matter where they are seated.
Yes, children can legally ride in the front seat of a pickup truck as long as all necessary safety precautions are taken. This means children should be secured in the appropriate restraint, whether it’s a car seat, booster seat or seat belt.
If you have a baby or toddler under 2 who meets the height and weight specifications for a rear-facing car seat, make sure the airbags are turned off.
Under Michigan law, children under 4 are required to ride in the back seat. However, many pickup trucks do not have rear seats or extended cab seating. Therefore, the law provides an exception for children who are riding in such vehicles.
In addition, children under 4 may ride in the front seat of a truck equipped with rear seating when other children under 4 are occupying the available back seats.
This is the case if there is no rear-cab or extended cab seating, or if all available seats in the rear of the truck are occupied by children under the age of 4.
When putting a booster or child seat in the front seat of a pickup, be sure it is properly secured according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
You might also be interest in this: Michigan Traffic Crash Facts for Children
The CDC encourages parents to set an example for their children by practicing recommended safety protocols.
Remember that a car seat must be properly installed in order to protect your child. If you need help installing a seat or determining which seat is best for your child, visit your local police or fire department.
For more helpful resources, safety tips and guides to a variety of topics, be sure to check out The Sam Bernstein Law Firm’s blog.
If you or a family member was injured in an accident involving a car seat or booster seat, contact us immediately. The experienced car accident lawyers at The Sam Bernstein Law Firm will guide you through the legal process while we fight to win the compensation you deserve.
Michigan car seat laws are complicated, but finding the right auto accident attorney is simple.
Click the button below to fill out a brief form or call 1-800-CALL-SAM for a free, no-obligation remote consultation from the safety of your home.Do You Have a Case?
Get The Bernstein Advantage® today!
Free. Simple. Quick.