What You Need to Know About Car Seat Safety in Minnesota

April 4th, 2017 by

Some of you reading this probably remember a time before car seat safety was “a thing.” In fact, some of you might remember a time when sitting on your mother’s lap was the safest place to be in a moving vehicle. It wasn’t until 1985 that car seat safety laws were passed throughout the entire United States. Up until that point, it was generally up to parental discretion and state law how or if children were secured during transport. In the years since we’ve come a long way in introducing regulations related to car seat safety and child safety in general. Today, I’m covering car seat guidelines and information to help parents and guardians keep their children safe.  

When used properly, child safety seats protect your little ones during transport. The key word here is “properly.” A National Child Restraint Use Study found car seats and booster seats are misused up to 61 percent of the time. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of opportunities for little ones to get hurt.

Car Seat Safety

What you need to know about car seat safety in MinnesotaHow can you ensure your car seats and booster seats really are protecting your kids? First, know the most common ways these safety tools are misused. According to the study mentioned above, there are three ways car seat safety is compromised:  

  1. Incorrect car seat installation
  2. Improper latch use
  3. Not following height and weight designations 

Here in Minnesota, our Department of Public Safety (DPS) has plenty of information and resources to help parents and guardians keep their children safe. They claim:

“In Minnesota, three out of four child seats are used incorrectly, and many parents aren’t aware of the restraint steps a child should progress through as they age and grow. A vehicle is the most dangerous place for children – and crashes are the leading killer of children under age 14.” 

They continue by listing the most common child passenger safety mistakes:

  • The child is switched from a rear-facing restraint to a forward-facing restraint too soon. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends keeping children rear-facing until two years old, if possible.
  • The restraint is not secured tight enough — it should not shift more than one inch side-to-side or out from the seat.
  • The harness on the child is not tight enough — if you can pinch the harness material, it’s too loose.
  • The retainer clip is up too high or down too low — should be at the child’s armpit level.
  • The child is in the wrong restraint — don’t rush your child into a seat belt.

Help with Car Seat Safety Guidelines

Minnesota’s DPS website provides details on car seat safety guidelines and a tool to search for places near you to have your car seats and booster seats checked for proper use and installation. Have you ever had your car seat or booster seat checked for safety? It’s a quick and easy step that can help keep your family safe.

In summary, to protect you and your family from car seat and booster seat misuse, follow all manufacturer directions, always have the right safety seat for your child’s size, and have your installation checked by your state’s Department of Public Safety.

By following these car seat guidelines, you’ll know you’ve taken the necessary steps to keep your child safe whenever you’re in transport. 


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