Overdue for an update? Playing catch up with child passenger safety laws to protect all children less than 2 years old in Wisconsin


child in car seat


Currently in the state of Wisconsin, child passenger safety laws do not match the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) evidence-based recommendations  for the best way to keep infants and young toddlers safe while riding in vehicles. Updates are being considered by the Wisconsin state legislature but have yet to be passed into law.

The AAP recommends keeping children rear-facing when riding in motor vehicles until at least the age of 2 or ideally until they have outgrown the rear-facing size limits. This is not just an arbitrary age – when children are less than 2 years old, they are at significantly higher risk of head and neck injuries when riding in motor vehicles due to their physical development. Current law in Wisconsin only requires children to ride rear-facing until 1 year of age, and to a weight of 20 pounds, which has significant safety implications.

It’s not just the AAP who promotes this idea. Many injury prevention organizations such as Safe Kids Worldwide and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation agree that this is a necessary step for protecting the youngest car occupants.

Parents value what the law says, and based on the current law, they question why they need to keep children rear-facing longer, and may find it an inconvenience. However, the safety risks to going forward-facing too soon outweigh the benefits, and car seat technicians are available and motivated to help parents figure out how to make smart decisions about their children’s safety.

By increasing the required age for keeping children rear-facing, 1-2 year olds may be up to FIVE times SAFER!  Therefore, the State of Wisconsin should pass the current bill being considered and pass it, requiring children to ride rear facing until at least 2 years of age.


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3 Responses to “Overdue for an update? Playing catch up with child passenger safety laws to protect all children less than 2 years old in Wisconsin”

  1. hmerali1 Says:

    I couldn’t agree more! As a pediatrician, I support all child-passenger seat legislation. The AAP guidelines have now been in place for 5 years and the law should match these guidelines. The Wisconsin Chapter of the AAP is currently working to advocate for AB400/SB332 – the bill requiring rear-facing seats until age 2:

    I hope this bill passes soon. In the meantime, I wonder what the best way is to get the information to parents? I agree that parents value what the law says, but they also value what their pediatricians say. Perhaps there needs to be a state-wide campaign by pediatricians on this issue. They could even partner with car seat technicians who you mention are available and motivated to help parents. Another great resource is the Safety Center at UW’s Children’s Hospital. This center provides educational materials for parents, sells safety products at discounted rates and helps parents ensure the products are properly installed.

  2. joycehuryu Says:

    thank you for sharing this information! I agree that having bills pass is one of the best ways to get the information regarding child’s safety to the parents. I am curious why this child-passenger seat legislation has not passed yet? It seems like the AAP guidelines have been in place for a while, and what they recommend seem to have clear benefits, so why is it taking so long to get the bill to pass? I think this is extremely important and could reduce many avoidable injuries and death, so hope it passes soon!

  3. andreanoelleschultz Says:

    UPDATE: Unfortunately, this bill stalled out in the State Senate, and so even though it had passed the State Assembly, it will not be made into law in Wisconsin. Child passenger safety advocates will have to advocate for another bill in the next session.

    Thank you hmerali1 for your comments! I actually work from time to time with the UW Children’s Hospital because they are a great resource for those of us who are CPS instructors. I should try to connect with the Wisconsin chapter of the AAP – that’s not a group I think to go to often.

    And joycehuryu, I would say that the political climate in Wisconsin right now is not very supportive of bills that tell people “what to do with their children”. We have been in a bit of a libertarian mindset lately, and there is the perception that parents will automatically do what is best for children. While that is a nice sentiment, it is not backed up by data, and strengthening child passenger safety laws is a proven way to minimize injuries and crash-related deaths in Wisconsin.

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