Nov. 14, 2014
Senate Committee Approves Child Safety Seat Requirements
Michigan statute regulating child safety seats would be updated to current federal and American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations under a bill reported Wednesday from the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee.

MCMCH helped initiate discussion with Sen. John Proos (R-St. Joseph), sponsor of the bill (SB 1135), earlier this year at the urging of Dr. Michelle Macy of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. Dr. Macy practices in the emergency department and does research and evaluation with their Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit. Her practice experience as well as her research focused on the experience of families and disparities that exist in appropriate use of child passenger restraints or "car seats" led her to urge updating of the law.
 
MCMCH Executive Director Amy Zaagman testified before the committee on Wednesday and noted that Michigan families get safety seat information in their pediatrician's office and in marketing materials from seat manufacturers, but conflicting messages about what is safe from Michigan statute.  

Too many children are pushed forward into seats that are not appropriate for their physical development and it leaves them more vulnerable in a crash. More than 100 children younger than 8 die in a crash in Michigan each year. And for many children injuries are more severe than they would have been in had they been in an appropriate restraint.

"It leaves parents not understanding what the safest thing is for their child and it leaves law enforcement not enforcing the strongest standard," Zaagman said. 

Under SB 1135, harnessed safety seat requirements would be based on weight, and booster seat requirements would be based on height.

"It's important that we bring the code up to date with today's empirical evidence," Sen. Proos told committee members.

The bill would require children weighing less than 30 pounds to be in a rear-facing car seat. Between 30 pounds and 50 pounds, the seat could face forward. Children weighing more than 50 pounds, but shorter than 57 inches, would be required to sit in a booster seat.

A second bill (SB 1134) would allow but not require hospital staff to point out to new parents that their seat is improper or improperly installed.

The committee reported both bills on 3-0 votes, with Sen. Vincent Gregory (D-Southfield) absent for another committee.

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