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Michigan Car Seat Laws You Need To Know (2023)

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When you’re planning a family trip to Michigan, it’s important that you make sure to follow local (or exceed) the child passenger safety laws.

Official Michigan Car Seat Laws

You can find the official Michigan car seat law in Michigan Compiled Laws Section 257.710d (car seats) and Section 257.710e (booster seats).

Michigan Rear-Facing Car Seat Law

Michigan does not specify how long children must be rear facing. At a minimum, parents are required to 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.

MI car seat law requires that children ride in a harness car seat until at least age 4. In addition, kids must meet both the height and weight requirements of the manufacturer before transitioning to a booster seat.

Michigan Booster Seat Law

Michigan requires children to ride in a car seat or booster seat until they reach 4’9″ or 8 years old. Children are not permitted to ride in a booster seat in Michigan until they are at least 4 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.

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 Michigan?

The Michigan front seat law is exceptionally weak: it only requires children to ride in the back seat until age 4 (or potentially younger if the back seat is fully occupied by younger children). 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 Michigan Car Seat Law

There have been numerous attempts to strengthen car seat laws in Michigan, including a bill that died in committee in 2017-2018. A subsequent effort in 2020 would have required rear facing until children reached 2 years old or 30 pounds, forward facing for kids 30-50lbs or 2-5 years old and booster seat use until 57″ or 11 years old – all much closer to best practices to keep kids safe. A bill put forth in 2021 wasn’t quite as far-reaching but again died in committee.

Get the latest from University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital

If you’ll be flying to Michigan, 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.

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