By Sgt. Troy Christianson
Minnesota State Patrol
Question: I am a new parent and I am not sure if I am doing this child car seat thing properly. Is there somewhere I can go to find out if I am doing it right? Thank you.
Answer: Congrat-ulations on parenthood! I know the feeling and there will only be more questions as time goes on. For child passenger safety, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety has a map that you can click on for your area, and it will bring you to a “car seat check.” dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/child-passenger-safety/Pages/car-seat-checks.aspx.
If this doesn’t work out, a person can always check with their local police department/sheriff’s office, local public health department or any hospital and clinic. If they are unable to help, they should be able to point you in the right direction.
Minnesota Child Car Seat Law and steps
•In Minnesota, all children must be in a child restraint until they are 4’9” tall, or at least age eight, whichever comes first.
•Rear-facing child seats – Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.
•Forward-facing seats – Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.
•Booster seats – Use after outgrowing a forward-facing harnessed restraint; safest to remain in a booster until four feet nine inches tall, or at least age eight, whichever comes first.
•Seat belts – Use when children can sit with their back against the vehicle seat and have their knees bent comfortably over the edge with their feet touching the floor.
Keeping children safe
•From 2016-2020, 20 children (ages 0–7) were killed in motor vehicles and only 40% of the victims were known to be properly secured.
•Of the 86 children (ages 0–7) seriously injured in motor vehicles in the past five years, only 50% of the victims were known to be properly secured.
•Of the 15,672 children ages 0–7 who were properly restrained in the past five years, 88% were not injured, and another 9% sustained only minor or possible injuries.
For the safety of your children
•Be an attentive driver
•Always buckle up
•Always secure your children in the proper restraint for their age, height and weight.
•Always have your children sit in the back seat.
You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.
If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester, Minn. 55901-5848. Or reach him at Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us.