Car Laws & Safety

Wisconsin Car Seat Laws | Child Safety Requirements 2020

Whether you live in the state of Wisconsin or you are just passing through, you will need to be knowledgeable and comply with the strict car seat laws of this state. Wisconsin’s car seat laws may seem more stringent than those of other states. Legislators are working hard to make sure parents are adequately protecting their children while riding in a vehicle.

Wisconsin however, has made a goal to clarify their car seat laws for parents to have a better understanding of these requirements.

In this detailed guide, we will Winsconsin’s forward facing , rear facing car seat laws , booster laws and seat belt laws. In addition, we will answer frequently asked questions regarding the safety regulations as well as fines for not following the law.

Wisconsin law requires the use of a restraint system according to a tiered system.

Wisconsin restraint Types

Wisconsin Rear-Facing Car Seat Laws

The law in Wisconsin dictates that Young children should ride in a rear-facing car seat until at least the age of two. For the safest practices, it is recommended to keep the child rear-facing for as long as possible.

Babies under the age of one or weighing less than twenty pounds must be in a rear-facing car seat placed in the back seat of a vehicle (if so equipped)

Parents are advised to move their child to a forward-facing seat when he or she outgrows the weight limits of the rear-facing position. According to Wisconsin law, children are required to ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the age of one, or weigh twenty or more pounds.

Forward-Facing Car Seat Laws 

According to Wisconsin forward-facing law, children are required to sit in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the age of four and weigh forty pounds.

Children ages 4-8, between 40-80 pounds, and under 4 foot 9 inches should be forward-facing car seat or a booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents should restrain their children in a forward-facing, five-point harness car seat until they outgrow the height and weight limits of the chair.

For best safety practices, parents are advised to keep their child in a harnessed restraint system for as long as possible. This concept is the safest position for your child to ride in the event of a crash.

Booster Seat Laws 

According to Wisconsin’s Booster law, children are required to sit in a booster seat until they reach the age of eight, weigh eighty pounds, or reach the height of four foot nine inches tall.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride in a booster seat until they can properly sit in the seat of a vehicle. Once, the child outgrows their forward-facing harnessed seat, he or she will progress to a booster seat

Older children must be in a booster seat until they reach the age of 8, weigh more than 80 pounds, and reach the height of 4 foot 9 inches.

Seat Belt Laws 

Wisconsin law requires all passengers to restrain themselves with a safety belt. Children should be able to sit in the vehicle seat without slouching. Once the child outgrows the booster seat, they should be able to sit in a vehicle seat with a seat belt adequately placed.

They should also be able to bend their legs at the edge of the chair. Most importantly, the seat belt should be able to fit securely across the shoulder and chest. The lap belt should fit properly across the thighs.

Wisconsin Taxi / Public Transportation Laws 

Wisconsin law does not require public transport options like buses, trains, and planes to have seat belts. Because of this exception, child restraint systems are not a requirement. However, if seat belts are available, parents are strongly advised to use them for their small children.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Sit In The Front Seat in Wisconsin

According to state law, children 13 years old and old are allowed to sit in the front seat. As always, make sure the child secure the seat belt properly.

Non-Compliance Penalties

Wisconsin car seat laws are broken down into a four-step progression of child safety restraint requirements. These requirements clarify what type of seat to use and the required positioning per the child’s weight and age.

According to the Wisconsin State Legislature, there are no exemptions to these car seat laws. There are also stiff penalties for non-compliance with the law. The consequences are as follows:

  • The child is less than four years old, then the fine for non-compliance with Wisconsin’s car seat law is $175.30.
  • If the child in the vehicle is between the ages of four and eight, then the fine for non-compliance is $150.10 for the first offense.
  • When the requirements are again not met, the fine is $200.50 for the second offense.
  • If the safety requirements are still not being met, the fine is $263.50 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Parent Education on Car Seat Safety

Wisconsin has closely mirrored the safety regulations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The proper installation of child restraint systems are often confusing not just to parents, but grandparents and other caregivers as well.

To eliminate the confusion, Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation provides many resources on child passenger safety to the general public. These resources include education, training, and car seat safety recommendations.  You can learn more about these safety resources at www.wisconsindot.gov.

Wisconsin broke a record reporting that 88 percent of people in Wisconsin wear seat belts, including children.

Wisconsin Child Passenger Safety

When selecting a car seat for your child, you should be mindful of your child’s safety needs. Child restraint systems and the safety regulations vary depending on your child’s age, weight, and height.

The American Academy of Pediatrics website has more information and many safety recommendations regarding the usage of car seats. Below are the safest practices according to your child’s growth progressions.

Back Seat Regulation 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of thirteen need to ride in the backseat of a vehicle. In Wisconsin, children that are required to sit in rear-facing or forward-facing car seats are also required to be seated in the rear seat of a car.

Airbags are designed to keep front-seat passengers safe in the event of a crash. If smaller children are seated in the front seat, however, deployed airbags can cause serious injuries, and in some cases, death. It is essential for your child’s safety to keep them restrained in the back seat of the vehicle for as long as possible.

Every Ride, No Matter the Distance

Many times, parents are rushing around to get to their destinations on time. Consequently, this means that children are not adequately positioned or buckled into their seats. Parents are advised to take more time to make sure to harness their children properly into their restraint systems. It would be best if you were sure to position the straps properly.

The chest clip should lay flat across your child’s chest. The straps should lay flat against your child and not twisted. If your child is in a booster seat, make sure the seat belt fits across them properly. Wisconsin law requires every child to be properly harnessed in a car seat whenever riding in a vehicle with no exceptions.

Caregivers Must Know The Law

Sharing your knowledge with other caregivers will help keep your child safe when travelling. Share with them the importance of car seats and car seat safety and how they can prevent serious injury. The more people know about car seat safety, the more children are protected.

Safety Statistics of Wisconsin

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Centers for Disease Control:

  • 3 of 4 car seats are not installed or used properly
  • A child’s risk of injury is reduced by 71 to 82 percent with the correct use of a car seat.
  • In 2016, more than 700 children ages 12 and under were killed in a car accident
  • In 2016, more than 128,000 children ages 12 and under were injured in car accidents
  • Of the children who died in a car accident, 35 percent of them were not buckled properly

These statistics are alarming and used to warn parents about the dangers of disregarding car seat safety regulations. To prevent these high statistics, parents should inform themselves on how to use and install their child restraint systems properly.

Parents should follow their state’s car seat laws and the safety recommendations of the NHTSA and the AAP. Wisconsin law closely follows the recommendations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Following these guidelines will decrease the risk of injury to your child in the event of a crash.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Who Can I Contact?

For specific questions about car seats or booster seats in regards to Wisconsin child seat laws, you can contact Nick Maniaci. He is the Wisconsin Child Passenger Safety Coordinator. You can contact him by phone at 1-855-224-3692 or by email at carseatwi@chw.org.

Correct Installation Guides 

Wisconsin’s car seat program has several resources for you to use to learn how to install and use your car seat correctly. For more information on car seat safety, guidelines, and helpful videos, you can visit https://chw.org.

In addition, you can follow the seat manufacturer’s instructions on how to install your car seat. You can also visit your local car seat inspection site to have a professional make sure to install your seat correctly. For a list of local inspection sites, you can visit www.safekids.org or www.safekidswi.org.

Stricter Than Most 

Wisconsin’s car seat laws are one of the more stringent across the US. However, lawmakers are working hard to make sure that more protection is available to children. Abiding by these laws, and avoiding smoking in the car when a child is present, will also help parents avoid a hefty fine.

In efforts to help parents become knowledgeable about current car seat safety, Wisconsin’s department of transportation provides them with many resources and training on safe practices. For more information on the car seat laws, you can visit  wisconsindot.gov.

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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