According to the Car seat laws in Montana, all children below the age of six (6)years and weighing less than 60 pounds are to be restrained in the appropriate car seat or booster seat.   In Montana, a strategy termed “buckle up” was adopted just to ensure strict adherence to the car safety laws and guidelines in the state.

 I know it can be interesting and daunting at the same time to get a car seat for your infant, toddler or even a much grown up kid, especially for the first time.  It is essential to get the vital information required to get the right car seat for your child to ensure his/her safety in a moving car.  As you go about your business or have fun in Montana with your child as a resident, tourist or passerby; it is important to abide by the car seat laws of Montana to avoid fines and protect the children from serious injury or even death.

In this article, I will guide you through the essential car seat laws in Montana and provide you with the necessary information to ensure the safety of your children, starting from their birth until they are old enough to sit in the front seat with you. So, keep reading to understand the requirements and measures you need to take to protect your kids while driving.

What are the Montana Car Seat Laws all about?

 Montana car seat laws are broken down by children’s age and weight. Children who are not properly restrained in a vehicle face great risks.

The caregiver and parents face the risk of tickets and payments of fines as well. There are four types of child safety restraints that the state recognizes. If you are a resident, a visitor, or a passerby, as you enjoy the beautiful scenery of Big Sky Country, ensure you follow all the car seat laws to keep your precious children and cargo safe.

In this article, we will cover in detail the laws concerning each type of restraint. The restraints have to be appropriate for the height and weight of the child based on the manufacturer’s standards.

 Montana’s Four Stages of Seat Safety

  • Rear-facing seats, including infant car seats and convertible seats-  These have a harness and cradle your child in a crash. 
  • Forward-facing seats, including convertible seats- They have a harness and a tether that work to inhibit forward motion in a crash. 
  • Booster seats -These seats elevate your child so that the lap and shoulder belts fit properly. 
  • Seat belt -The lap and shoulder belt must fit your child properly in order to restrain them properly in an accident. 

 

 

Recommended car seat in MontanaAge/weight range
Rear-facing infant or convertible rear-facing car seatFrom birth to 12 months or 20 pounds
Toddler car seat, convertible car seat

Or three in one.

12 months or 20 pounds, to 4 years or 40 pounds
Booster seat with lap and shoulder belt system4 years or 40 pounds, to 8 years or 80 pounds.
4’9” tall childrenLap and shoulder belt system in the back seat of the vehicle

 

Montana Rear-Facing Car Seat Law

A rear-facing infant car seat or a convertible rear-facing seat must be used by children aged 12 months and weighing 20 pounds or less. 

However, it is recommended that you keep your child rear-facing as long as possible, at least until the age of 2. Rear-facing car seats are the safest type of seat for young children in the case of an accident. This is because it cradles the child, helping to reduce impact and movement forward or backward. 

Montana Forward-Facing Car Seat Law

At 1 year of age and 20 pounds or more, a forward-facing seat or convertible seat may be used. Children should continue to use a forward-facing seat until they are 4 years old or 40 pounds. 

In recent years the American Academy of Pediatrics has updated recommendations about when to turn your child around. While they recommend rear-facing until at least 2, many rear-facing seat weight limits will accommodate children until ages 4 or 5. 

Montana Child Booster Seat Law

When your child is 4 years old and/or 40 pounds, they can use a child booster seat. Nevertheless, it is advised that you keep your child in a forward-facing child seat until they reach the max height and weight limits. For some, this can be 5 or 6 years of age, with some seat weight limits extending up to 60 pounds. 

Age is not the only factor you should use to determine readiness for a booster seat. Your little one should be able to, and responsible enough to, sit upright in the booster for the entire duration of the journey. 

Lap-Shoulder Seat Belt Law

Once your child is taller than 4 feet 9 inches, they can transition to a lap-shoulder seat belt; this is usually between 8 and 12 years of age. They should remain restrained in the back seat of the vehicle.

How do you know if your little one is ready to transition out of the booster seat and into the seat belt? The five-step readiness check can help. 

Five-Step Readiness Check

Check for the following when your child is sitting in your vehicle’s back seat. 

  1.     Their back is flush with the back seat, and their knees bend at the edge of the seat.
  2.     Their feet can rest on the floor.
  3.     The seatbelt crosses the collarbone and is centered on the chest. 
  4.     The lap belt crosses their hips and touches the top of their thighs.
  5.     They can comfortably sit this way for the entire trip. 

You must answer “yes” to all of these in order to stop using the booster seat. Also, while your child may pass the test in one vehicle, they may fail in another vehicle. Continue using the booster in cars in which they don’t pass. 

When Can a Child Ride In the Front Seat in Montana

In Montana, there is no definitive law children can ride in the front seat, as long as they are properly restrained according to law and the guidelines in Montana car seat laws.

However, generally, the state recommends that children continue to ride in the back seat until at least 13 years of age. But the back seat is usually the safest place for young children.  This is commonly due to injuries associated with airbags.

Montana Car Seat Law for Taxi/Uber

The laws are unclear as to whether or not taxis/uber are exempted from the child safety seat law. Taxis are exempt from the general seat belt law. The law states that “a motorbus, school bus, taxicab” are examples of exempted vehicles. However, as a parent or caregiver, you can go into the taxi or uber with your child’s car safety seat for the child’s safety.

Accident Replacement Guidelines

There are no laws or guidelines in the State concerning replacing a child seat after an accident. The AAP recommends that after an accident, you always replace your car seat. This is regardless of if any damage can be seen or not. 

Penalties for violations of Montana car seat laws

Violation of Montana’s car seat law can result in a fine of up to $100. Violating the State’s seatbelt law can result in a fine of up to $20. 

Besides fines, you are also risking the safety and welfare of your child by choosing not to use a car seat or restraint system

Final Thought

Montana state, just like all other states, has car seat laws that have to be adopted and strictly adhered to by every driver for the safety of the children in the moving car.  There are several seats recommended, as mentioned and explained above. According to the law, proper restraint should be used according to the age and height of every child. 

Dear parents and caregivers, there is nothing as disheartening as seeing those lovely kids go through pain or even death just because of negligence on our part.  Let us make it a duty to ensure proper restraining measures are put in place before moving the car.

Author

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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Keren Simanova

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