When you’re planning a family trip to Maryland, it’s important that you make sure to follow local (or exceed) the child passenger safety laws.
Official Maryland Car Seat Laws
You can find the official Maryland car seat law in Md. Code, Transportation § 22–412.2.
Maryland Rear-Facing Car Seat Law
Unfortunately there is no Maryland rear facing law other than requiring parents to use a car seat and follow the guidelines set forth by the manufacturer of their specific car seat (referred to as “proper use”).
Some manufacturers permit children to forward face as young as 1 year as long as they weigh at least 22 pounds, while other manufacturers require toddlers to be at least 2 years old to forward face.
Rear-facing is significantly safer for children as it dramatically decreases the risk of head and neck injuries. This resource is full of great information.
The current guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that children should remain rear-facing to the limits of their convertible car seat. Nearly all convertible car seats today will accommodate kids up to 40 pounds (they have variable height limits so read your manual) – the size of an average 4 year old – rear facing.
Though it’s not specified by the law, research indicates that kids should continue riding in a harnessed car seat (whether rear-facing or forward-facing) until at least age 5, 40 pounds and mature enough to sit properly for the whole drive.
MD car seat law only requires that children ride in some sort of car seat or booster seat until age 8 or 4’9″. The currently Maryland car seat law is among the weakest in the country and does not reflect our current understanding of how to keep kids safe in the car.
Maryland Booster Seat Law
Maryland requires children to ride in a car seat or booster seat until they reach 4’9″ or 8 years old. Be sure to follow manufacturer minimum and maximum size requirements for your booster seat – most manufacturers now require a minimum of 4 years old, 40″ tall and 40 pounds.
The Maryland seatbelt law requires that teens continue using a seatbelt until at least 16 years old and that all occupants riding in the front wear a seat belt regardless of age.
Most children do not fit properly in an adults seatbelt until 10-12 years old, when they pass the 5-step test.
When Can Kids Ride In the Front Seat In Maryland?
Maryland front seat law only requires that kids ride in the back seat when they’re in a rear facing car seat (assuming the car has an active air bag in the front). However, but many car manufacturers specify that kids should not ride in the front until age 13. Here’s an excellent explanation of why.
Upcoming Changes To Maryland Car Seat Law
There are no outstanding proposals to strengthen the MD car seat laws.
Get the latest from Maryland DoT
If you’ll be flying to Maryland, be sure to bring one of these travel car seats. If you’re planning a family road trip, consider one of these comfortable convertible car seats or comfortable booster seats. Check more car seat laws by state as you plan your route.