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Child Passenger Safety: Car Seat Laws In Michigan

In 2017, there were 675 child fatalities (12 or younger) across the U.S. What makes that statistic even more concerning is that 35% of those fatalities were either not buckled up or in a proper child seat. There is also a close link between adults not wearing a seatbelt and children not wearing one: in car crashes where the driver was not wearing a seatbelt, 40% of children were not wearing any form of child restraint.

But what does the child passenger safety law say in Michigan? What does the law require when it comes to child restraints?

What Does the Law Say?

Michigan has a specific law relating to the use of belts and seats for children. Its main points are:

  • All children under the age of 4 should be placed in a proper safety car seat or booster in the rear of the car.
  • The only exception to (1) is where the rear seats are occupied by children under the age of 4. In these circumstances, a child can be seated in the front seat as long as a proper safety seat is used.
  • When you put the child in a rear-facing car seat in the front of your car, you must ensure the airbag is turned off for that seat.
  • There are two possible cut-offs for using child car seats: You must use a proper seat until the child is 8 years old. But given the design of the seats, there is also a height cut-off of 4’9”.

Choosing the Right Car Seat

Although your child’s weight is not mentioned in Michigan’s law, it is an important factor to include when deciding on a seat. The NHTSA offers a handy search tool that allows you to enter your child’s age, height, and weight and that will then offer a range of suggestions for seats including ratings.

There are many seat manufacturers on the market, offering different types of seats and booster seats, including rear-facing child seats or specially designed ones if they have to ride in the front of the car.

The CDC also offers guidance on choosing the proper seat for your child. What can also be a huge help is to buy direct from a store rather than online. That way, you can actually try the seat out with your child as it is important that they are comfortable in the seat you choose. You can also ensure the restraints fit comfortably and the seat is easy to fit into your vehicle.

What About Older Children?

Michigan has what is known as primary seat belt laws. This means a police officer could stop your car if they see you driving without using a seatbelt or if your passengers are not using one. The use of seatbelts when people ride in a car in Michigan is higher than the national average with around 94% of people in Michigan always using one.

  • All child passengers between the ages of 8 and 15 must wear a seatbelt when traveling in a vehicle. If your child is taller than 4’ 9” but under the age of 8, then they also must wear a seatbelt.
  • Drivers and front-seat passengers must always wear a seatbelt.

The Takeaway

Ideally, a child should always have a seat in the rear of the car and always in a proper safety seat appropriate for their age, height, and weight. Choose a seat that suits your child and one they will be comfortable in as well as safe. If you believe your child was injured due to a defective child restraint, our team of product liability lawyers can ensure you and your child receive the compensation you deserve.

If you have been affected by a car accident where your child was injured, we offer a free appointment to discuss your case. Please call our law firm at (866)-779-7331 for more information or to schedule a no-obligation consultation.

Steve is a former criminal justice worker. With degrees in psychology and social work, he spent most of his life helping those with addiction issues before switching to criminal justice. He was responsible for writing court reports and advising judges on sentencing. He also supervised offenders, including sex offenders, in the community and carried out risk assessments and probation appraisals. He now lives in SE Asia and is working on his 5th novel.

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