What are Missouri’s Child Car Seat Laws?

Child car seats are not only a proven method to keep infants and young children safe in crashes when riding in cars and other motor vehicles, they are also a legal requirement in all 50 states and all territories of the United States, including Missouri.

Read on to learn about Missouri’s child car seat laws, how following these laws and regulations helps save lives, and what you should do if you and your children are involved in a car crash.

Missouri Laws and Regulations Regarding Child Car Seats

The laws and regulations governing the usage of child car seats in Missouri are listed in Missouri Statute 307.179. According to the law, any driver transporting at least one child aged 16 or younger in their vehicle is legally responsible for their safety, including the proper use of child car seats.

Depending on the child’s age, the following laws and statutes apply:

  • The driver must secure any children they transport in an appropriate child passenger restraint system (as defined in 49 CFR 571.213) if they are aged four or younger, weigh 40 lbs. or less, or both.
  • If the children are over four years old but under the age of eight, weigh over 40 lbs. but less than 80 lbs., and are less than 4’9” tall, the driver must secure them in an appropriate booster seat or child restraint system.
  • If the children are at least eight years old and at least 80 lbs. or over 4’9” tall, they can use a standard seatbelt.

However, depending on the age of the child, parents may want to continue having their child use a booster seat, even if they meet the legal requirements to ride without.

How Proper Child Car Seat Usage Contributes to Safety

Although Missouri law does not require keeping children out of the front seat or require infants and toddlers to use rear-facing car seats, there are numerous reasons why you should consider these measures.

Rear-Facing Child Car Seats

Most automobile manufacturers recommend that very young children (up to 1-2 years old, depending on the manufacturer) be secured in rear-facing seats due to the numerous safety benefits during accidents.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, securing children under four in a rear-facing seat reduces the risk of nonfatal head and neck injuries by 71%-82%. It also reduces the risk of death from these injuries by 28%.

Front Seat Usage

Although it isn’t illegal in Missouri, most manufacturers recommend against letting children under the age of 13 ride in the front passenger seat. Most front-mounted seat belts are not designed to secure children and tweens safely.

According to the CDC, the recommended car seat stages are as follows:

  • Newborns until ages 2-4: Rear-facing child restraint system in the backseat
  • Ages 4-6: Front-facing child restraint system in the backseat
  • Ages 6-9: Booster seat in the backseat
  • Ages 10-12: Standard seat belt in the backseat

CDC statistics found that approximately 600 children under the age of 12 died in car crashes in 2019. Among the fatalities where the restraint usage is known, 38% were not properly wearing a booster seat or car seat. Following proper seating stages and not letting children under 13 sit in the front seat reduces the risks of injury and death in a car crash significantly.

What to do After a Car Crash with Child Passengers

If you are involved in a car crash in Missouri with children riding in your car, here are the steps you should follow:

  • If able, move the vehicle to a safer position. Staying in the middle of the road following a collision increases your chances of being struck again.
  • If the accident was severe (you or one of your children is injured), call 911, follow their instructions, and wait for EMTs and law enforcement to arrive.
  • Go to the hospital as soon as possible, and have you and your children examined by a doctor.
  • Keep documentation, medical evaluations, and other evidence of the accident, then contact an experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer. They can help you obtain due compensation for pain, injuries, and damages.
  • Have your child’s car seat replaced after the accident, even if it was a minor one. Your insurance should be able to cover the costs. Car seats will no longer as effective after even a single crash because the force of impact strains the plastic.

Call a Qualified Missouri Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident with your children, Cofman Townsley has the resources and expertise to help you. One of our experienced car crash lawyers can help you understand your legal options, build a case against the party at fault, and help you receive your due compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.