Are you required to put your child in a car seat in Michigan?
If so, what type of car seat should you use?
What about the adults?
Should everyone buckle up?
We’re going to answer all these questions and more.
Today, we’re going to look at the Michigan car seat laws, as well as the seat belt laws. With this, you can comply with the law, avoid penalties, and make sure everyone is safe.
What’s more, we’re going to highlight the importance of these safety restraints.
So buckle up and let’s go!
Car Seat Laws in Michigan
Michigan law states that…
“Children must be in car seats until it’s safe for them to use seatbelts.”
However, remember that the requirements vary depending on your situation and your child’s age.
Let’s break that down into specifics.
The Rear-Facing Car Seat
All children below 4 years old must ride in a car seat. And although Michigan law doesn’t specify what type, it’s best to use a rear-facing one.
The safest place to put this car seat is in the backseat. However, if you have multiple passengers and there’s no available space, you can install it in the front passenger seat. Don’t forget to disable the front airbags if you do this.
Now, kids typically outgrow a rear-facing car seat by the time they hit 2 or 3. That said, it’s best to check the manufacturer’s height and weight limits. With this limit guide, you can determine whether or not it’s time to transition to a different car seat.
The Convertible Car Seat (Front or Rear-Facing)
The next type of car seat you should invest in is a convertible one (most of the time, it’ll be front-facing). This car seat comes with harnesses, which you must always secure when your child is using it.
Typically, you’ll use this until your child turns 4 or when he outgrows the height and weight limit the manufacturer indicates.
Children between 4 and 8 use a booster seat when riding in a car. They must continue to do so until they turn 9 or stand at 4 feet and 9 inches tall.
At this point, it’s still best to install your car seat in the backseat of your car.
Eventually, your child will outgrow their booster seat. At this point, you can have them use your car’s seatbelt to buckle up.
Remember that there’s no one right age for this. You’ll have to use your best judgment to figure out if it’s the right time.
An excellent way to determine this is to see how well the seat belt fits. The shoulder strap should go across their chest and shoulders, not the neck. The lap strap should be on their upper thighs, not their belly.
Remember, it’s safer to keep using a booster seat than insist on using a seatbelt if it doesn’t fit right.
Car Seat Penalties in Michigan
Michigan law enforcement officers can pull you over for not having your child restrained in a moving vehicle. You may have to pay fines if convicted.
The penalties for unrestrained children are as follows:
- If the child is younger than 4: $10
- If the child is between 4 and 8 OR is 4’8 or shorter: $25
Seat Belt Law in Michigan
It’s always safest to buckle up when you’re in a moving vehicle, but do you know that it is required for everyone in Michigan?
Anyone who sits in the front is required by law to wear a seatbelt, whether as a driver or a passenger.
However, you don’t have to wear one if you’re 16 or older and are in the backseat.
That said, Michigan’s seat belt law is different for those between 8 and 15. They must buckle up, no matter where they sit in the car.
Seat Belt Penalties in Michigan
Just like the Michigan car seat laws, the seat belt law has primary enforcement. This means a police officer doesn’t need any other reason to pull you over besides this — the driver, front passenger, or anyone younger than 15 is not wearing a seatbelt.
The fine for not wearing a seatbelt in Michigan is $25.
Importance of Safety Restraints
Yes, sometimes it’s more comfortable not wearing your seatbelt. In the same way, sometimes it’s less hassle to just keep your child in your lap.
But there’s a reason why Michigan has these laws in place.
In 2020, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 51% of passenger fatalities from car accidents weren’t wearing seatbelts when the crash happened.
According to the NHTSA, seatbelts saved almost 15,000 lives in 2017.
Imagine how many more lives could have been saved if more people had buckled up.
You can see that these safety restraints save lives.
Just in case you aren’t convinced, here are some reasons why wearing safety restraints is essential:
- It prevents ejection. A collision can throw you through a window or the windshield if you’re not wearing your seatbelt. This will most likely result in severe injuries or, worse, death.
- It increases airbag effectiveness. Some people think they can forgo wearing seatbelts because their cars have airbags. However, manufacturers designed airbags to work alongside seatbelts. An airbag might cause more damage to your chest in a crash if you don’t buckle up.
- It prevents brain and spine injuries. Even if you don’t get thrown, the impact of a crash may cause you to hit the dashboard, your car’s headrest, or the seat in front of you. If it’s your head or back, you’re more likely to be at risk for a brain or spine injury.
Besides these, there are also financial advantages of always buckling up:
- It helps you avoid fines. Remember, you’ll need to pay a fine if you violate Michigan’s car seat or seat belt laws. Although the amounts may seem small, these can quickly add up if it happens frequently.
- It may qualify you for insurance discounts. Some car insurance companies offer discounts if your car has safety features, which include seatbelts, airbags, and car seats.
The Wrap Up
Wearing your seatbelt and putting your child in a car seat bring multiple benefits. Yes, it helps you save money, but more importantly, it helps save lives.
Michigan’s car seat and seatbelt laws are straightforward. It’s not hard to understand and obey.
So don’t forget to buckle up before you pull out of your driveway.
Be a safe and responsible driver!