A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in Missouri
- The AAP recommends children should ride on rear-facing seats for a minimum of 2 years.
- Children weighing less than 40 pounds or less than 4 years of age are required to use rear-facing or forward-facing seats.
- The law requires children aged 4-7 years who weigh 40 pounds or more to ride on booster seats until they weigh at least 80 pounds or are 4’9’’ or taller.
- No law specifies the requirements for sitting in the front seat.
Missouri Child Safety Seat Law
Children 3 years or younger or those who weigh less than 40 pounds are required to ride on the appropriate child safety seat (this includes rear-facing and forward-facing seats) and be secured according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in Missouri
The state of Missouri does not have specific requirements for rear-facing seats. However, most states design their car seat laws based on the AAP’s (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendations. The AAP recommends children should ride on rear-facing seats for a minimum of 2 years or until the manufacturer’s weight and height guidelines have been exceeded. They further advise that infants should stay rear-facing for as long as possible. This is because a rear-facing seat is safer as it protects the baby’s fragile body parts such as the neck and spine in case of a collision. To keep your child rear-facing for a longer period, you can graduate your child from infant-only seats (best for newborns) to convertible seats which can support up to 40 pounds. As a result, children in convertible seats may reach age 4 before exceeding the seat’s limits. Ensure your child is secured in the back seat and that the straps are fastened according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Forward Facing Car Seat Laws in Missouri
Missouri law does not have specific recommendations for forward-facing seats. However, children weighing less than 40 pounds or less than 4 years of age are required to use rear-facing or forward-facing seats. According to the AAP, you can use a forward-facing seat once your child outgrows the rear-facing seat, and keep your child forward-facing until at least the age of 4 years. A seat with a 5-point harness is recommended. The harness straps should be snug at or above the child’s collarbone. A lap-shoulder belt or lap-only belt can be used to secure the seat in the rear of the car. Currently, forward-facing seats can support up to 65 pounds, so some children may still be safe in this type of seat until age 7. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s manual to determine if your child is still within the limits.
Booster Seat Regulations in Missouri
The law requires children aged 4-7 years who weigh 40 pounds or more to ride on booster seats until they weigh at least 80 pounds or are 4’9” or taller. A booster seat should be used with a combination of lap and shoulder belts. Make sure the booster seat raises your child high enough such that the lap portion of the belt lies snug across the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt lies snug across the chest area. If your car does not have a headrest, using a high-back booster seat is recommended to support your child’s head and neck. While the law allows you to transition your child to safety belts once they weigh 80 pounds, most experts agree that the height of the child should be used to make the decision. This is because seat belts are designed with the height of an average adult in mind. So anyone shorter than 4’9” may not fit perfectly in seat belts and can be exposed to neck and stomach injuries. Also, parents can determine if their child is ready for safety belts if the child can sit against the back of the seat without slouching, and if the child’s knees bend at the edge of the seat, with feet touching the floor.
Requirements for children to use the front seat in Missouri
No law specifies the requirements for sitting in the front seat. However, the AAP recommends children should remain in the back seat until 13 years. This is because the passenger-side airbags in the front seat can be lethal to kids when deployed. Most experts consider the back seat to be generally safer.
Car Seat Law regarding Children below 16 years in Missouri
Children who are under 16 years and have outgrown booster seats are required to ride while wearing safety belts.
Law on leaving a child in a car in Missouri
If you leave a child of less than 11 years unsupervised inside a vehicle and the child causes the vehicle to injure another person, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. In case the injury inflicted on the said person is fatal, you can be charged with a C felony. It is recommended to never leave your child unattended in a vehicle for any length of time.
Law on Smoking in a car with a child in Missouri
No law makes it illegal to smoke in a car with child passengers, although it is not recommended.
Law on Car Seat Replacement in Missouri
Missouri has no laws regarding the replacement of car seats. However, most car seats have expiry dates so be sure to check the manufacturer’s manual. Also, the NHTSA recommends replacing your car seat after a moderate or severe accident.
Car Seat Law Exemptions in Missouri
Commercial vehicles such as taxis and school buses are not required to comply with Missouri car seat laws.
More Missouri Laws