News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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New law requires children under age eight, 4’9” tall to use booster seats in vehicles

As of July 1, 2008, new Michigan law will require children who are under eight years old and less than four feet, nine inches tall to be properly secured in a child restraint while traveling in a motor vehicle.

“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children,” said Bert Notestine, who coordinates the local chapter of the SafeKids Coalition for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “Seat belts are designed for adults. Booster seats, used along with seat belts, provide children with the best protection in a car accident.” Current law requires that children under age four ride in a child restraint. Legislation introduced by Senator Michelle McManus extends the requirement to include older children who also are not optimally protected by seat belts alone.

Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS), conduct the world’s largest ongoing study of children in crashes, and analyze actual crash data from 16 states, including Michigan. PCPS reports that the risk of injury for a four to eight year old child is reduced by 59% when using a child restraint. Children in seat belts alone are four times more likely to suffer head or brain injury as compared to those in a child restraint. States that have passed similar laws have also determined that child restraint use increases dramatically when required by law.

The signing of Senate Bill 82 is a culmination of a multi-year effort on the part of child passenger safety advocates in the State of Michigan, including SafeKids coalitions and the Boost MI Kids Coalition.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information on child passenger safety, call Notestine at 231-347-5022 or visit