Prioritizing your child’s safety while driving is one of the essential protocols you must follow as a parent. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injury for children. Following your state’s car seat laws are crucial protocols to follow to improve your child’s safety and prevent fatalities on the road.
Some parents might find it overwhelming to research ever-changing laws about car seat safety. Luckily, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about Wisconsin car seat laws to ensure your child’s safety. It might not be easy expecting the unexpected while on the road, but following these laws might reduce the tension parents might have.
What Are Wisconsin Car Seat Laws?
Wisconsin’s car seat laws might differ based on the child’s age, height, and weight. Understanding these components is essential in improving your child’s safety and helping you become a vigilant parent while driving. If you need a refresher, this rundown should give you a good idea of what rules to follow.
Requirements for Infants
Infants and toddlers need to remain in a secure car seat until they reach age four. These car seat rules also apply when a child reaches 40 pounds. Regardless of what type of car seat you place an infant in, Wisconsin car seat laws require parents to place them in the back seat.
Convertible Car Seats
Convertible car seats allow parents to switch between front-facing and rear-facing modes for their child to use, making them convenient for transitioning children for safer restraint as they grow. If you’re a parent who uses a convertible seat for your child, car seat laws state your child should weigh between 20 to 40 pounds.
The age, height, and weight regulations might differ depending on the convertible seat’s manufacturer, so it would be wise to purchase one that matches your child’s characteristics. It’s also an excellent consideration for parents when they want their kids to use car seats longer if they’re concerned about them riding without one.
If you want to place your child in a booster seat, the age range for them to use it is between four to eight years of age. They should also remain in a booster seat until they reach 80 pounds. Booster seats aren’t required for children above these age and weight ranges. When a child grows to a height of 4’9”, they don’t need to use a booster seat.
Following booster seat requirement laws in WI is a requirement for people in and out of the state. This rule applies when parents place booster seats in other family member’s cars, making it valuable whenever a child travels with alternating caretakers.
Once your child exceeds booster seat age and height requirements, they can transition to using traditional seatbelts. Wisconsin seatbelt laws insist children wear secure safety belts at all times.
Front-Facing Car Seats
Front-facing car seats, much like their namesake, points children towards the front of their parent’s car. Children placed in front-facing car seats should ride in one when they’re at least a year old or weigh over 20 pounds.
The maximum age requirements for riding in a front-facing car seat peak at age four. Most weight requirements for several seat manufacturers don’t exceed over 40 pounds.
Rear-Facing Car Seats
Parents should place infants less than a year old in rear-facing car seats in the back seats of their vehicles to prevent them from getting injured in unexpected vehicle accidents. When placing them in your car, they point towards the back of the vehicle.
If they’re over a year old, but less than four and weigh less than 40 pounds, they must remain in a back-facing car seat. A parent should also keep their child in one when the child is between ages four through eight, weighs 40 to 80 pounds, measures less than 4’9”, and remains in the back of the vehicle.
All motor vehicle drivers and passengers over the age of four must wear a seatbelt when riding in the front or back of a vehicle. Typically, people should use secure three-point belts that drape across their shoulders.
Once a child outgrows the use of a car seat or booster seat, they can use seatbelts. Wisconsin seatbelt laws recommend children using seatbelts to ride in the back seats of a vehicle until they become 13 years old. Once they reach this minimum age, they can ride in the front seat while using a secure seatbelt.
Possible Penalties for Not Adhering to Wis. Car Seat Laws
Wisconsin residents and visitors from out of state must comply with all car seat and seatbelt laws. If parents don’t comply with Wisconsin car seat laws, they might encounter penalties for their actions. The most common penalty comes in the form of paying fines for non-compliance.
If a parent has a child less than four years of age and doesn’t follow Wisconsin’s car seat laws, they would have to pay a fine of $175.30. If their kids are between ages four and eight, the penalty fee costs $150.10 for the first offense. The fee for a second offense equates to $200.50. If a person fails to comply over three times, they must pay $263.50.
Most public transportation, such as buses, taxis, and trains, typically don’t have seatbelts installed, allowing citizens to ride them without the need for child restraints. However, if seatbelts are available, it would be wise to let small children use them.
Wisconsin laws prohibit parents from placing front-facing and rear-facing car seats or booster seats in the vehicle’s front. Ideally, the safest location to place a child to reduce injury or death is the back seat area.
If you place a child restraint in the front seat, they become prone to getting injured by the car’s airbag when accidents occur. Parents can increase their children’s safety by keeping them further from the impact area.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has several resources about passenger safety for youths. They highlight aspects of car seat law education, training, and recommendations. If you don’t want to risk accidental fines or injuries, it would be best to review these resources often.
You can always ask other parents for their advice and experience with car seats. You can adapt their advice to choose the best options for your kid.
Parents can choose between attaching the seat with the car’s seatbelt or latch system. When securing a front-facing car seat, the shoulder straps should go through the slots near or above a child’s shoulders. For rear-facing seats, the strap should touch at or below a child’s shoulders.
It would also be an excellent idea to review whether the seat’s buckle stays snug and in place or not. If it doesn’t pinch the child and can’t break loose, it’s suitable to use.
Although most seatbelts increase our safety in moving vehicles, they might not be the safest option for small children. Wisconsin has several laws and regulations about installing car seats correctly, no matter how far parents have to travel with their younger children. By prioritizing these rules, you can save lives.