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Maryland Car Seat Laws

A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in Maryland

Maryland Car Seat Laws

A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in Maryland

  • The Kids in Safety Seats program educates people about the safety of kids in cars.
  • Children younger than 1 year who weigh less than 20 pounds are required to ride on rear-facing seats.
  • Children can graduate to forward-facing seats once they are 1 year old and weigh 20-40 pounds.
  • The Maryland Child Passenger Safety Law requires children younger than 8 years who have a height less than 4’9’’ to ride on booster seats.
  • Maryland does not prohibit children of any age range from sitting in the front seat, although we do not recommend allowing your child to sit in the front seat until they reach a height of at least 4’9″

Maryland Kids in Safety Seats

While the state of Maryland has enacted Child Passenger Safety Laws, it also has a program called KISS (Kids in Safety Seats). KISS is under the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and is tasked with educating the residents of Maryland about child passenger safety.

Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in Maryland

KISS requires children to ride on rear-facing seats until they are 1 year old and weigh 20 pounds or more. They further recommend parents to switch their babies from infant-only seats to convertible seats with weight limits of up to 30 pounds for rear-facing, when the baby is closer to 1 year or 20 pounds. However, most seats can support up to 40 pounds, so make sure your child stays rear-facing for as long as possible or until they exceed the maximum limits. The seat should have a 5-point harness and be secured away from an active airbag. The state allows you to put a child-safety seat in the front seat, however, you should refrain from this regardless of whether there is an airbag or not. Most experts agree the back seat is safest for your child.

Forward Facing Car Seat Laws in Maryland

According to KISS, children can graduate to forward-facing seats once they are 1 year old and weigh 20-40 pounds. However, you can check the rear-facing seat requirements to determine whether your child is old enough to transition. The seat should have a 5-point harness. Make sure the harness straps snugly lie across your child’s collarbone with little to no space in between (2 or more fingers should not fit in between the strap and collarbone). Forward-facing seats can support children of up to 65 pounds, so some children may still be within the seat limits until 7 years old.

Booster Seat Regulations in Maryland

The Maryland Child Passenger Safety Law requires children younger than 8 years who have a height less than 4’9’’ and have outgrown the forward-facing seats to ride on federally approved booster seats. Also, KISS recommends a child has to weigh at least 40 pounds or more before transitioning to a booster seat. Belt-positioning booster seats raise children so that the lap-shoulder belts can fit properly. A proper fit means the lap portion of the belt lies low across the upper thighs and the shoulder portion lies snug across the chest area. It is not recommended to use lap-only seat belts to secure booster seats. According to KISS, your child can ride on a booster seat until he or she weighs 60-80 pounds (average maximum weight of booster seats) or has a height of 4’9’’ or taller. Also, your child is ready to transition to seat belts when he or she can sit with the back straight against the back of the seat and when the legs bend at the edge of the seat without slouching.

Requirements for children to use the front seat in Maryland

Maryland child car seat laws do not prohibit children of any age range from sitting in the front seat. However, most experts agree that children 12 years and under should ride in the back seat. Front seats usually have airbags designed for adults and can be fatal to children when deployed during an accident.

Law on leaving a child in a car in Maryland

Do not leave a child under 8 years unsupervised inside a car, as this is illegal according to Maryland law.

Law on Smoking in a car with a child in Maryland

It is illegal to smoke in a car with child passengers under the age of 8.

Car Seat Laws regarding Taxis in Maryland

The state exempts taxis from complying with the child car seat laws.

Law on Car Seat Replacement in Maryland

Maryland does not have laws regarding the replacement of car seats. The state requires parents to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to replacing car seats after an accident. Some seats also have expiration dates, so be sure to replace them after they have expired.

More Maryland Laws