Statistically, Mississippi has been recorded to have one of the lowest rates when it comes to seat belts use.
Even though wearing seat belts saved about 296 adult's lives while using child restraints saved another 266 children's lives, citizens in this state have recorded only about 77.9% of restraint use.
Moreover, data from the Mississippi State Department of Health showed that car accidents are still the leading cause of accidental death among children.
In fact, about one-third of the children killed in vehicular accidents are not using or improperly using a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt.
These numbers sound alarming, right?
Not sure about the Mississippi car seat laws?
Then stay with us, and as responsible parents, be sure to always buckle up for your safety and your children's safety!
Mississippi Car Seat Laws
Under Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulations Section 63-7-301, any person transporting a child under four years old in a motor vehicle and on a public roadway, highway, or street are required to provide child protection by properly using a child passenger restraint system approved by the federal standards.
Moreover, transporting a child in a belt-positioning booster seat system is required to provide protection for children at least four years old but less than seven years old and measures less than 4'9" or weighs less than 65 pounds.
Mississippi Car Seat Laws
1. Rear-Facing Car Seats
For most models, this is at least until the age of two.
2. Front-Facing Car Seats
Toddlers and preschoolers should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness for as long as possible, until such time that the highest weight or height is outgrown.
These seats are far better than booster seats to ensure keeping children safer.
3. Booster Seats
School-aged children must use a belt-positioning booster seat until such time that the seat belt fits properly.
A child should be at least 4'9" in height to travel without a booster seat.
4. Seat Belts
Children who are old and large enough to use a seat belt correctly should also use the shoulder and lap seat belts for better protection.
Penalties for Violations
A convicted person of violating the Mississippi car seat law will be given a penalty of $25 for every offense.
If proven to have acquired a child restraint system, the charge may be dismissed.
A child may be exempted from the Mississippi Car Seat Law due to the following reasons:
1. Transporting two or more children who are required to use a booster seat at one time.
2. Transporting on a motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle, or trailer type of vehicle.
3. Transporting in a bus, farm-used vehicle, or passenger car operated by rural letter carrier and meter readers.
4. There is a medical condition, which is supported by a written verification by a licensed physician.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can a child occupy the front seat?
As of the moment, there is no law in Mississippi mentioning at what age a child can occupy the front seat, although the state highly recommends being at 13.
All children below 13 years old should be properly restrained in the rear seat of the vehicle.
They will only be allowed to occupy the front seat once the booster seat is outgrown and once the adult seat belt fits them correctly.
2. Is smoking in cars illegal?
A bill that will fine drivers who are smoking in cars with children under the age of six has been presented.
This aims to protect children against secondhand smoke.
However, the bill was killed.
3. Can a child be left unattended in a car?
No child should be left unattended or alone in the car.
During warmer months, the vehicle's temperature can quickly increase compared to outside temperatures, which can also cause the child's body to heat up faster.
Leaving a child in the car, even for just a few minutes, can lead to heatstroke.
4. Should vehicles be locked at all times?
Yes, keep your car locked at all times.
Children love to explore, play, and even get inside a parked vehicle, which can be very dangerous. The child can lock himself inside the car without knowing how to unlock it.
Also, the child can knock the vehicle's gears causing it to start moving.
Important Pointers to Ponder
Here are some of the car safety tips that the Mississippi State Department of Health wants you to always keep in mind:
- Always sit tight and never let a child ride on laps, pickup truck beds, or cargo areas.
- During installation, be sure to achieve a tight fit between the child restraint system and the vehicle seat by putting weight into it.
- Special children, including premature infants and children with neurological and behavioral problems, require unique restraint systems, so it is essential to check and consult with the doctor.
- Use the correct restraint system instead of using pillows, towels, or books as a booster alternative.
- Be informed on the proper installation and use of the child restraint using the instruction manual and the vehicle's manual.
- Check the crash history of the car seat before making a purchase. Broken car seats or those that have been in a crash is not safe for use.
- The car seat has an expiration date, be sure to check it.
- During cold weather, use a blanket to keep a child warm. Bulky outerwears can compromise the protection brought about by the harness straps.
- Register the car seat to stay updated on car seat recalls. You can either register online or through the mail.
Where to Get Car Seat Assistance in Mississippi?
1. Safe Kids Mississippi
Safe Kids is a globally recognized organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children to reduce the occurrence of preventable injuries and deaths in Mississippi.
The organization frequently travels and offers certified courses involving child passenger safety for the public as well as to law enforcement, child care providers, hospitals, and others.
2. Car Seat Installation
Parents can visit www.nhtsa.gov/therightseat to locate the nearest car seat fit station or contact 601-815-6212 to schedule an installation or lecture appointment.
Moreover, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, together with Safe Kids, offers a car seat inspection station at 504 Clinton Center Drive, Clinton, MS 39056.
The use of child car seats during travels will not only give parents peace of mind.
This will also ensure children's protection against injury and death, from birth up to their early teens.
However, it is essential to know the proper installation and correct use of the child restraint system.
Keep in mind that there are appropriate types and models that best suit a child's needs.
Failure to use the correct car seat may lead to accidents and serious problems.
Good thing! You can simply contact the nearest car seat fitting station to conduct safety seat checks and educate you on the proper installation, use, and care of safety seats.
Safe travels, everyone!