Car Laws & Safety

Michigan Car Seat Laws & How To Avoid Penalties

In this post, we will discuss all Michigan Car Seat Laws and their implications. Car accidents are one of the number one leading causes of death in children.

Following your state’s specific car seat laws and becoming knowledgeable on car seat safety will help prevent this alarming truth. Many states have different law requirements regarding the usage of child restraint systems. Michigan’s car seat laws are as follows:

What Type Of Car Seat Is Your Child Required To Use?

To protect the safety of your child, he or she should be positioned in a child restraint system while riding in a vehicle. A child restraint system includes a child seat with a 5-point harness or a booster seat, either high-back or backless.

Per Michigan’s car seat laws, you are required to use the child restraint system following the seat manufacturer’s instructions, and also your vehicle manufacturer’s instructions. Depending on your child’s age and weight, your child will either ride in a rear-facing infant car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or booster seat.

Michigan law requires your child’s seat to be rear-facing from birth until the age of one, or until they reach 20 pounds.  This period is usually around the age where they grow out of their rear-facing car seat. After growing out of a forward-facing car seat, your child is required to advance to a booster seat.

Michigan Car Seat Laws

The law requires children to remain in a child restraint system until the age of 8 or they reach the height of 4 feet 9 inches, whichever comes first.

When your child is old enough and big enough to sit in a vehicle, adequately restrained by a safety belt, they will be able to accompany you without the use of a child restraint system.

Refer to your seat manufacturer’s instructions for the height and weight requirements to upgrade from each stage.

What Is The Height And Age Requirement For Children Advancing From A Booster Seat?

According to Michigan law, your child must reach the age of 8 or a height of 4 foot 9 inches to advance from a child restraint system to sitting in a vehicle seat using only a seat belt.

It is important for the safety of your child to keep them in a child restraint system for as long as possible.

If your child reaches the age of eight but is not yet 4 foot 9 inches, it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep your child in a car seat until they reach the height limit and weight limit.

According To Michigan Car Seat Laws, What Are The Requirements Of A Child Riding In The Front Seat Of A Vehicle?

According to Michigan law, children ages 4 and under should ride in a child restraint system in the back seat of a vehicle. The only exception to this law is if other children occupy every place in the back of the car.

In this case, a child age four and under can ride in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of the vehicle, as long as the front airbag is turned off. According to the Academy of Pediatrics, all children under the age of 13 should sit properly in the back seat of a vehicle for best safety practices.

Are School Buses Included In The Michigan Car Seat Laws?

There are many public transportation options, like city buses and trains, that are not required by federal law to have safety belts installed.

In cases like this, child restraint systems are not necessary because there is no way to harness the seat to the vehicle seat, making it unsafe for your child to ride safely in the car seat.

These types of transport options, like school buses, provide one of the safest forms of transportation because of how they are constructed and designed. In the event of a crash, a school bus utilizes its compartmentalized design of heavily padded and high back seats to provide the utmost safety to the passengers.

Safety belts may cause more harm than they would protect a passenger on a bus.

As mentioned by Michigan car seat laws, children should be positioned in a child restraint system until they are big enough or old enough to ride without it.

However, the law also states that the child restraint requirements do not apply to passengers of vehicles that are not required by federal law to equip with safety belts. This exception includes school buses, city buses, and trains.

Michigan Car Seat Laws

 It is essential to follow the car seat laws of your state. According to Michigan car seat laws, if an operator of a vehicle is transporting a child in the incorrect position in a child restraint system according to their age and weight, the operator of the vehicle will be fined for a civil infraction.

These laws were put into place to protect your child in the event of a crash. Child restraint systems prevent your child from serious injuries or even death. Michigan car seat laws are as follows:

  • Michigan law requires your child to be in a child restraint system until they reach the age of 8 years or are 4 foot 9 inches tall, whichever comes first.
  • You should use a child restraint system depending on the seat manufacturer’s height and weight limits.
  • The child restraint requirements do not apply to the passengers on a school bus, or in other vehicles that are not required to equip safety belts under federal law.
  • Children ages 4 and under should ride in the rear seat of a car in a child restraint system. A child under four years of age can only ride in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a vehicle if other children occupy all rear seat options and the airbag is turned off.  

The Importance Of Car Seat Safety.

Along with being up-to-date on your state’s car seat laws, you should also be knowledgeable about how to use a car seat and properly install it into your vehicle. Use your car seat manufacturer’s instructions and review the weight limits of the chair to determine which child restraint system to use and its optimal position.

There are six major safety tips you should follow for the optimal safety of your child.

What Type Of Car Seat To Use And Its Positioning?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants from birth until two years old ride in a rear-facing car seat.  When your child outgrows their rear-facing only seat, it is also recommended to upgrade to a convertible seat installed in the rear-facing position for your child to stay in the safest position longer.

When your child reaches the age of 2, it is recommended to use a forward facing car seat. Refer to your car seat manufacturer’s instructions on when to upgrade to a forward facing position per your child’s weight. It is viable for children to ride in a seat with a harness for as long as possible, but at least until the age of 4.

Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat, they can then start using a booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when he or she has reached the top weight or height allowed for a chair with a harness, his shoulders are above the top harness slots, and the top of his ears have reached the top of the seat.

Proper Installation Of Your Car Seat.

The installation of your car seat is crucial to your child’s safety when riding in a vehicle. You should use your vehicle’s latch system or a safety belt to harness your child’s seat into your car correctly.

Although both methods are deemed safe, using both ways are not proven to work together and may be harmful. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to properly install your seat and how far back to recline the seat according to your child’s weight.

Proper Use Of Car Seat Straps.

Using the car seat straps to harness your child into their seat correctly is also very important for your child’s safety.  The harness and the straps of the car seat work together with the specific placement of the chair to give your child the highest level of protection in the event of a crash.

If a car seat is rear-facing, the straps need to be at or just below your child’s shoulders. If the car seat is forward facing the straps, need to be at or just above your child’s shoulders.

The harness should buckle in the crotch area, and the chest buckle should be placed at your child’s chest, ensuring the straps lay flat against your child and do not twist. Make sure the straps are pulled tight enough and fit your child snugly.

Proper Use Of Safety Belts.

As your child transitions into a booster seat, it is crucial to make sure that the seat belt fits them properly. The lap belt should position across the child’s lap, and the shoulder strap should lay across the shoulder and rib cage.

If the lap belt lays around the abdomen or the shoulder strap drapes across the neck, a car crash could result in severe bodily injuries. High-back boosters can help with the positioning of the seat belt since they provide guides to position the safety belt around your child correctly.

When your child outgrows their booster seat, it is also essential to make sure the seat belt positions over your child precisely without the use of the booster.  

Purchasing Used Car Seats

In addition to the proper use and installation of your car seat, you should also be mindful of the type of car seat you buy. Never purchase a car seat that is too old. All car seats have an expiration date, which you can find in the manufacturer’s instructions with the chair.

You should never buy a car seat that does not come with instructions, has missing parts, or does not have a label with a date of manufacture and model number. Also, you should refrain from using a car seat that has been recalled or has been involved in a moderate to a severe car accident.

Car seats can be damaged and if not used properly are not deemed safe for your child.  

Airbag Safety

It would be best if you also were mindful of the placement of your vehicle’s airbags. Review your vehicle manufacturer’s instructions to be knowledgeable about where your airbag placement and how to turn them on and off.

According to Michigan state law, children ages four and under can ride in the front seat of a vehicle as long as the airbag is turned off and children under four occupy the rear seats of the car.

If the airbag is not turned off, it can cause serious bodily injuries in the case of a crash.  Airbags in the front seat are designed to protect adults and teenagers from further injuries in the event of an accident. However, airbags can be hazardous and sometimes even deadly to children younger than 13 riding in the front seat of a vehicle.

Proper use of your child restraint system and following the Michigan car seat laws are crucial to the safety of your child riding in a vehicle. Following these laws will help protect your child against Serious injury or death in the event of a crash.

For more information on Michigan car seat laws, you can go to the Michigan Department of State website at www.michigan.gov. For more information on child passenger safety laws, you can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at  www.nhtsa.gov. For more information on car seat safety, you can visit www.safekids.org or the American Academy of Pediatrics website at  www.aap.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the age and weight requirements for a child to sit in the front seat of a vehicle?

According to Michigan Car Seat Laws, a child younger than the age of 4 needs to ride in a car seat in the rear seat of a vehicle unless children take all rear seats under 4. In this case, a child under four can ride in the front seat of a car in a rear-facing car seat as long as the front airbags are turned off.

What does the law require for infants who are not yet one year old but have grown out of their rear facing car seat?

Michigan law states your child can ride in a forward facing car seat once they reach the age of one or exceed 20 pounds.

Where can you find a list of car seat inspection locations to make sure to install the car seat correctly?

You can visit the national highway traffic safety administration or Safe Kids USA for a list of car seat inspection stations near you.

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren

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