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Know the Law – Seat Belt Safety For Kids

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National Child Passenger Safety Week is September 17-23. Unfortunately, when it comes to buckling up in the back seat of a car, the laws can be a little confusing. Here are the basic rules to remember when it comes to back seat riding for kids.

Children ages 0-4 must be properly strapped into a car seat in the back seat of the vehicle. The car seat must be rear facing from birth until at least age 2. For children ages 2-4, the seat may be forward facing.

Once a child turns 4, he or she should be properly strapped into a booster seat in the back seat while riding in a vehicle. A booster seat is required until the child reaches age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall, whichever comes first.

According to recent studies, more than half of all child car seats and booster seats are improperly installed. This leads to a greater risk of injury if the vehicle is in a crash. If you need help installing a car seat or booster seat, or if you just want to make sure your child’s seat is properly installed, you can seek assistance from your local police department, fire department or public health department.

What are the seat belt rules for those who are ages 8-15? These kids must wear a safety belt when riding in the back seat. However, Michigan law seems to suggest that buckling up in the back seat is not required for anyone age 16 and older. While this may technically be true, it is not safe. Anyone riding in the rear seat of a vehicle should always buckle up, because even a low-impact crash can cause an injury.

Unfortunately, there is a misperception that the back seat of a vehicle is safer than the front seat (where belts are required for everyone), and so a belt doesn’t really need to be worn in the back. That simply is not true. A few tragic examples of people who’ve been killed while riding unbuckled in the back seat of a vehicle are Princess Diana and 60 Minutes reporter Bob Simon.

It’s important to remember that rear seat passengers who are not wearing safety belts can be tossed around like rag dolls in even a low-impact crash. So be sure to buckle up in the back seat – no matter what your age.

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