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sisters sitting in backseat of car

Driving Through Michigan? Know The Front Seat Law (2024)

The state of Michigan requires children younger than age 4 to be secured in a car seat with a separate harness system in the backseat of a vehicle when available.

Front Seat Requirements Michigan

According to Michigan’s child restraint laws, children must be secured in car seats in the backseat of vehicles until they reach ONE of the following:

  • Front Seat Age Michigan: 4 years

At age 4, a child may legally ride in the front seat of a vehicle as long as they are properly secured in a car seat or booster seat.

Exceptions To Front Seat Law In Michigan

Michigan’s front seat law states that children under age 4 may not ride in the front seat of a vehicle, but there are exceptions.

These exceptions are:

  • If you are in a vehicle with single-row seating, like a sports car or pick-up truck.
  • If the seatbelts in the backseat are broken or there is another issue with the vehicle that makes restraint in the back dangerous.
  • If you are transporting multiple children of car seat/booster seat age, and all backseat seatbelts are in use with other car seats or booster seats.

General Front Seat Law FAQ

sisters sitting in backseat of car

When can a child sit in the front seat?

Legally, the age (or height) at which a child can sit in the front seat varies from state to state.

Some states have no laws preventing children from sitting in the front seats of vehicles regardless of age (even while still in car seats).

When it comes to safety, however, a child should not sit in the front seat of a vehicle until they are at least tall enough to properly fit a standard seatbelt (4’9”).

But the longer you can keep them in the backseat the better.

The CDC recommends all children under the age of 13 sit in the backseat of vehicles.

What is the purpose of front seat laws?

Studies have shown children under the age of 13 are safest in the backseats of cars.

More specifically, the center backseat is the safest place in a vehicle for a child.

This is why some states have laws forbidding children from riding in the front seat of vehicles until they reach a specific height or age.

Why is the front seat unsafe for children?

There are two main reasons the front seat of a car is unsafe for children.

One of the reasons children fare better in the backseat of a vehicle during an accident is because head-on collisions are one of the deadliest types of car crash.

Though they make up only 2% of all car crashes, head-on collisions account for over 10% of car crash deaths. (Rollovers are the only other accident type with such a disproportionate fatality rate for those inside the vehicle.)

Since the back seat is furthest from the front of the vehicle, it is the safest place to be in a head-on collision.

The second reason children fare better in the backseat of a vehicle during an accident is because the safety devices installed in cars to protect passengers during a collision are designed for adults.

Since airbags are designed for adults and not children, the impact of an air bag when deployed can cause more harm to a child than the accident itself.

Research conducted by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found “children exposed to air bags during a crash are twice as likely to suffer a serious injury.”

The Safest Place For Kids Is The Backseat

While back seat laws and recommendations might seem inconvenient (especially if you only have a pick-up truck), these laws are based in research.

So, follow Michigan state law and keep your kid under age 4 in the backseat (when and if available).

Or, even better, follow CDC guidelines and keep them back there until they turn 13.

And, before that, follow Michigan’s laws regarding car seats and booster seats.

For more on Michigan’s car seat laws, see Michigan Car Seat Laws.

For more on Michigan’s booster seat laws, see Michigan Booster Seat Laws.

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