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What to Know About Michigan Car Seat Laws

With our roads and highways becoming increasingly congested, the possibility of an accident also increases. And while we depend on manufacturers to make our vehicles as safe as possible, a large portion of responsibility lies with us as Michigan drivers to contribute to reducing any risks.

By observing state and federal traffic laws and eliminating poor driving behavior such as distracted driving and speeding, we can help lower the risk of being involved in an accident.

But is there more we can do? What about those of us who have children or who have regular child passengers? What motor vehicle seat laws exist in Michigan to protect children?

The Statistics

  • In 2017 675 children 12 years of age or younger died in car accidents and almost 116,000 were injured. Of those fatalities, 35% were not buckled up or in a safety seat.
  • Between 2001 and 2010, around 20% of child auto accident fatalities under the age of 15 were in accidents that involved driving under the influence. Of that 20%, 65% were in crashes where their own driver was the one that had been drinking.
  • There is a correlation between the driver’s seatbelt use and children’s restraint use. Where a driver was not wearing a seatbelt, 40% of the children riding with those drivers had no form of safety restraint.
  • An estimated 46% of child safety systems in cars are used incorrectly, reducing their effectiveness.

The Laws in Michigan

The state of Michigan has a specific child passenger safety law to protect passengers under 16. This law requires:

  • Children under the age of 4 to ride in a safety car seat in the rear of the vehicle.
  • If the rear seat is fully occupied by children younger than 4, another child under the age of 4 may be seated in the front in an appropriate safety car seat.
  • If using a rear-facing child seat, this can only be used in the front seat when the airbag is turned off.
  • Children must always be in a child seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4’ 9” tall. A special seat must be used until they reach the age requirement or height limit.

Although the law specifies only age and height, ensure any seat you use is appropriate for the height and weight of your child. Always read the instructions carefully. Pay special attention to the instructions regarding straps and buckles as if used improperly, these may cause injury to the child in the event of a collision.

Michigan also has a primary seat belt law. The difference between a primary and secondary seat belt law is that with primary law, police officers can stop and ticket you purely on the basis of non-use of seat belts. With a secondary law, they would only be able to ticket you if they had pulled you over for another reason. The seat belt law states that:

  • Passengers between the ages of 8 and 15 should wear a seat belt at all times. This law will also apply if your child is younger than 8 but exceeds 4’ 9”.
  • Drivers and front seat passengers should always use a seat belt.

How to Use Them

Always purchase a child car seat that is suitable for your child’s age, height, and weight. Following the guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) can help you to ensure the safety of your child. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also offers good guidance as well as a useful search tool that can identify the seat best suited to your child.

How Good are Child Seats?

Many people question the effectiveness of child-specific safety seats and say they prefer to use standard shoulder belts rather than an age-appropriate seat-based safety system. These figures from the CDC illustrate how effective a proper child seat can be:

  • Using a proper, and age or height specific child car seat reduces the risk of injury by 71-82% for children compared to using only seat belts.
  • Using a booster seat for children aged between 4 and 8 reduces the risk of serious injury by 45% compared to only seat belt use.
  • For older children, and for adults, using a seat belt can reduce the risk of serious injury or death by around 50%.

Last Word

When an accident involves injury to a child, it can be particularly stressful for all concerned because as parents protecting our children is our priority. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we approach your case with empathy, offering legal guidance and ensuring your child receives the compensation they deserve for their injury, whether it is due to a collision or a defective car seat or booster seat.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your unique circumstances and to provide guidance on how to progress with your case. To schedule your no-obligation appointment or for more information, please call our law firm at (866)-779-7331.

We never charge a fee unless we reach a settlement in your case.

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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