Motor Vehicle Safety

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Step 1:​

boy in car seatInfants are safest riding rear-facing as long as possible, AT LEAST until they are over 1 year AND over 20 pounds.

child in car seat If they outgrow the weight/height limit of their infant-carrier BEFORE their first birthday, they should be moved to a convertible seat and continue to ride rear-facing until they reach the maximum weight/height allowed by the manufacturer which could be until 2 years old.

Step 2:

girl in car seatWhen they have outgrown their rear-facing car seat AND are over 1 year old, they should use a forward-facing car seat. Toddlers are safest staying in a harness seat until they are AT LEAST 40 pound AND approximately 4 years old.

Step 3:

boy in car seatChildren over 4 years old, between 40-80 pound and under 4’9” tall, need a booster seat to lift them up to make the seat belt fit correctly. Booster seats must ALWAYS be used with a lap AND shoulder belt.

Step 4:

A child can ride in a vehicle lap/shoulder seat belt when he/she can do ALL of the following:

child in car seat
  • Sit against the vehicle seat back
  • Bend his/her knees at the edge of the vehicle seat
  • The lap belt fits across the hips
  • The shoulder belt is centered on the shoulder and chest
  • He/she can stay seated with his/her feet flat on the floor, without slouching, with the belts in the correct position for the whole trip
  • All children are “safest” in the back seat until they are 13 years old

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury to children under age 14. Child safety seats can prevent injuries and save lives, when installed and used correctly. Young children restrained in child safety seats have an 80 percent lower risk of fatal injury than those who are unrestrained. Effective July 1, 2008, Michigan law requires all children to ride in an appropriate child safety seat until they are 8 years old or 4’9” tall.

Always refer to the owner’s manual of the child seat and to the vehicle owner’s manual for specific use of a child safety seat and installation instructions. Since these instructions are often not user-friendly, consulting a certified child passenger safety technician is highly recommended. A 'Car Seat Check' is an event where you can learn how to transport your children as safely as possible by individuals who have been trained and certified in child passenger safety.

Fact Sheet for this information.