State Rep. Jack O’Malley, chair of the House Transportation Committee, today led discussions on legislation improving child safety on our state’s roadways.
A bipartisan plan from state Reps. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover) and Cara Clemente (D-Lincoln Park) will use widely accepted national research to update Michigan’s laws on car seats. Children under 30 pounds or less than 2 years old would be required to be in a rear-facing car seat. Those between 30-50 pounds or ages 2-5 will need to be in a front-facing car seat. A booster seat will be required for kids up to 11 years old who are over 50 pounds and less than 57 inches tall.
“It’s clear from what I saw that our laws have been slow to react as more research has been done on the issue,” said O’Malley, of Lake Ann. “Motor vehicle crashes are cutting lives short for too many children and adolescents. We need to do all that we can to ensure our children are being transported in vehicles in the safest possible way, so that we can put a dent in these tragic statistics. These are uniform, accepted benchmarks for families, children and law enforcement that we can all understand.”
Sharon Swindell, Michigan Chapter President for the American Academy of Pediatrics, shared information for the committee showing stages of a child’s physical development and how they are open to serious injury if recommended transportation methods – while taking development stages into account – aren’t adhered to properly. But these suggested guidelines do not match up with current state law – and there have been growing concerns that the law is too simplistic.
Car seats reduce the risk of death in infants by 71 percent and in toddlers by 54 percent, according to the academy’s studies. Booster seats reduce the risk of injury by 46 percent in children ages 4-8.
HB 4600 amends the Motor Vehicle Code to reflect the new child car seat standards, while 5274 will allow for a civil infraction to be waived if an offender obtains an appropriate car seat for their child and takes a course on seat installation. Both bills remain under consideration in the House Transportation Committee.