New Child Passenger Safety Law Requiring Rear-Facing Car Seats Starts in October

A new law mandating that children must be kept rear-facing until at least two years of age will go into effect on Oct. 1, as part of the state’s initiative to eliminate traffic deaths.

In April of 2022, the state passed SB 176, a bill that proposed updates in the state traffic laws to include more measures to enhance child safety. The primary measure in the new law requires that children be kept in a properly-fit, rear-facing seat until at least two years of age, unless the child meets or exceeds the height and weight on the seat’s guidelines, according to a statement released by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT).

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommend that children should ride rear-facing for as long as possible until they exceed size guidelines. 

Rear-facing child seats have better support for the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in car crashes. In a collision, the back of the driver’s seat takes most of the impact energy. When children ride forward-facing, their heads are thrown forward in a crash, possibly resulting in serious injuries.

By including age as a requirement in the new law, it helps law enforcement officers educate drivers on proper child passenger safety and gives clearer guidance for caregivers. Additionally, under SB 176, only a written warning may be issued for the first violation, supporting law enforcement’s request to use the new law as a teaching moment for drivers rather than a fine.

Kids in Safety Seats (KISS) supports a volunteer network that offers Car Seat Assistance Programs (CSAP) to the community. CSAP offers low-cost options (convertible or combination seats) to the public for those in need. 

Additional updates to the law include:

  • Children under 8-years-old ride in an appropriate child safety seatunless the child is 4’9” or taller, according to the vehicle and child restraint instructions.    
  • Every child from 8 to 16 years old who is not secured in a child restraint must be secured in the vehicle’s seat belt.
  • The law applies to the transportation of a child in a motor vehicle registered, or capable of being registered in Maryland as: Class A (passenger), Class E (truck) or Class M (multipurpose) vehicles. 
  • This law is applicable to in-state and out-of-state vehicles.  
  • It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all children are correctly buckled up and secured.

For more information about child safety laws and car seat requirements, visit: 

Contact KISS for a low-cost car seat at 800-370-SEAT (7328).

Write a Comment

Related Articles