As a Detroit injury attorney, too often we see cases where a terrible accident is made much worse because the people involved were not secured in proper safety belts or devices. This may be especially true with children. It may also be quite confusing to truly know when children should be restrained and what seat is truly appropriate for the child’s age and weight.
From the time you bring your child home from the hospital until they are in grade school, he or she must be properly restrained with an age and weight-appropriate device while riding in any motor vehicle. Here is an overview of the general car seat laws and recommendations from Michigan’s department of motor vehicles’ web site:
Experts recommend a baby or toddler ride rear-facing until he or she is two years old or until he or she reaches the highest weight or the highest height allowed by the car seat.
When a child is at least two years old or has outgrown the weight or height limit of their rear-facing seat, he or she should be restrained in a harness until he or she reaches the weight or height limit.
As a child outgrows his or her harnessed car seat, he or she moves to a belt-positioning booster seat, which the child will be in until the vehicle seat belt properly fits the child without the booster. For most children they outgrow their booster between the ages of 8 – 12, when he or she reaches 4 feet 9 inches tall. From then on out, a child may ride with a regular seat belt, but should always use both a lap and shoulder belt for the most safety.
In Michigan, all children younger than age four must ride in the back seat of a vehicle if there is one available. If all back seats are filled with children, then a child younger than four may ride in the front seat. Everyone younger than 16 must use a seat belt regardless of where he or she is seated in the vehicle. Additionally, everyone riding in the front seat must be wearing a seat belt.
A child in a rear-facing car seat may only ride in the front is the air bag has been disabled.
According to the Michigan DMV, more than 70 percent of car seats are not properly installed. If you are the parent of small children, it is important to know which car seat is the best choice to protect your child. If you have been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, you may benefit from speaking with a personal injury attorney. Call today for your free, initial consultation.