As last week was National Child Passenger Safety Week, I thought I would take a few minutes to discuss Michigan’s seat belt laws, and in particular, how our seat belt laws apply to children.
Since I am a lawyer who helps and works with victims of car accidents, it should come as no surprise that both myself and the other attorneys here are often asked about the laws pertaining to seat belt use in Michigan. Our child safety and seat belt laws can be confusing. I’ve even had to call and speak with police officers in the past about specific questions or concerns such as people being ticketed for expired car seats. Here are some things I’ve learned and that you should know about Michigan seat belt laws.
Michigan is one of 31 states plus the District of Columbia that have primary enforcement of seat belt laws. That means that police officers can stop vehicles and write citations for failure to buckle up.
According to the Michigan State Police Website:
Michigan has a primary seat belt law, which means law enforcement can stop and ticket motorists solely for not being buckled up.
The law requires:
- Passengers 8-15 to buckle up in all seating positions
- Drivers and front seat passengers to be buckled up
Michigan’s child passenger safety law requires:
- Children younger than age 4 to ride in a car seat in the rear seat if the vehicle has a rear seat. If all available rear seats are occupied by children under 4, then a child under 4 may ride in a car seat in the front seat. A child in a rear-facing car seat may only ride in the front seat if the airbag is turned off.
- Children to be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall. Children must ride in a seat until they reach the age requirement or the height requirement, whichever comes first.
Michigan’s seat belt safety law can be found at MCL 257.710e. It states in pertinent part:
(3) Each operator and front seat passenger of a motor vehicle operated on a street or highway in this state shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt except as follows:
(a) A child who is less than 4 years of age shall be protected as required in section 710d.
(b) A child who is 4 years of age or older but less than 8 years of age and who is less than 4 feet 9 inches in height shall be properly secured in a child restraint system in accordance with the child restraint manufacturer’s and vehicle manufacturer’s instructions and the standards prescribed in 49 CFR 571.213.
Car Seats, Boosters and Seat Belt Safety
Use of seat belts isn’t just the law, it’s probably the single most important step you can take to protect yourself and your children in the event of a car accident. If you have questions about child seat belt and car seat safety, SafeKids.org is a very helpful resource. The site provides:
- Fact Sheets
- Research Reports
- Safety Tips
- Additional Downloads
- and a List of Useful Websites
Here’s one of their videos answering the question: Are You Turning Your Child Forward-Facing Too Soon?
According to the National Safety Council:
Seat belts are the single most effective traffic safety device for preventing death and injury, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent. They save lives:
Seat belts saved more than 75,000 lives from 2004 to 2008.
Forty-two percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2007 were unbelted. A 2009 NHTSA study estimates more than 1,600 lives could be saved and 22,000 injuries prevented if seat belt use was 90 percent in every state.
It’s as simple as this: Seat belts save lives!
If you have a question about seat belt safety as it relates to a Michigan car accident, please don’t hesitate to contact us: (800) 777-0028.
Steve Gursten is a partner in auto accident law firm Michigan Auto Law, he provides legal services for victims seriously injured in Michigan car accidents, truck accidents and motorcycle accidents.