Car seat safety and regulations are always changing and adapting to provide the utmost protection to children. Car accidents are one of the number one leading causes of death in children.
The proper use of a child restraint system would aid in avoiding this alarming statistic. As car seat regulations and laws change, parents often get confused about which guidelines to follow.
Many states have different law requirements regarding the use of child restraint systems. Following these guidelines can be confusing to parents because there is not a single straight forward guideline to follow.
Wisconsin however, has made a goal to clarify their laws for parents to have a better understanding of these requirements. 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.
Car Seat 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.
Below is a very important video on Car Seat Safety by Medical College of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Car Seat Laws
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. For more information on the car seat laws, you can visit wisconsindot.gov. Wisconsin’s car seat laws are as follows:
- 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)
- Children over the age of one and weighing over twenty pounds should ride in a rear or forward-facing car seat placed in the back seat of a vehicle (if so equipped) until the age of four or they weigh over forty pounds
- Children ages 4-8, between 40-80 pounds, and under 4 foot 9 inches must be in a rear or forward-facing car seat or a booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle (if so equipped)
- Young children must be in a car seat until the age of 4 and 40 pounds
- 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.
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.
Rear-facing Car Seat
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. 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
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. According to Wisconsin 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.
Once, the child outgrows their forward-facing harnessed seat, he or she will progress to a booster seat. According to Wisconsin 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 the booster seat, they should be able to sit in a vehicle seat with a seat belt adequately placed. Wisconsin law requires all passengers to restrain themselves with a safety belt. Children should be able to sit in the vehicle seat without slouching.
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.
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.
Car Seat Safety Tips
Being knowledgeable about current car seat laws and safety regulations is critical to the safety of your child. For more information about car seat safety, you can visit www.nhtsa.com. Below are essential safety tips to follow when traveling with children.
Choose the Right Car Seat.
When purchasing a new car seat for your child, you should choose a chair according to your child’s height, weight, and age. Wisconsin law requires the use of a restraint system according to a tiered system. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children to ride in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the age of two.
Once children outgrow their rear-facing seat, they should be seated in a forward-facing seat with a five-point harness. It is a recommendation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that children stay in a chair with a harness as long as possible for best safety practices.
Install and Use Your Car Seat Correctly.
You should read the seat manufacturer’s instructions on how to properly use and install the seat into your vehicle. You should use your vehicle’s latch system or a safety belt to harness the seat into the car correctly.
Although both methods are safe, using them together has not been tested and is deemed unsafe.
Wisconsin’s car seat program includes a list of car seat safety sites to provide professional help. You can view these sites at www.safekidswi.org.
Research the Car Seat Before You Purchase Second Hand.
If you have to buy a car seat second hand, you should buy the seat from a reliable source. You cannot use expired seats and seats that are involved in car wrecks, as they do not follow safety requirements.
Damaged, outdated, or recalled car seats are deemed unsafe to use and could cause more harm than protection. Be sure to know the history of the chair, and also research the seat before you purchase or use it for your child. You can view a current recall list at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov.
Use a Car Seat Correctly on 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.
Share Your Car Seat Knowledge With Other Caregivers.
Sharing your knowledge with other caregivers will help keep your child safe when traveling. 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.
What Are Wisconsin Child Seat Laws About Public Transportation?
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.
WISN investigates why no seat belts exist on school buses and what has to be done to change that in the video below.
Wisconsin Child Car Seat Laws – Frequently Asked Questions.
How do I know if my car seat is correctly installed?
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.
Whom can I contact for specific questions about car seat laws in Wisconsin?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are there any resources to show me how to install and use my car seat correctly?
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.
Why The State Of Wisconsin Is So Strict About Its Car Seat Laws?
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 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 about these resources, visit www.wisconsindot.gov or www.safekidswi.org.