Booster seats are the law in Minnesota, yet crash data reveals many parents are not using the safety seats that help seat belts fit children correctly and safely, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
In Minnesota it is the law for children to ride in a booster seat upon outgrowing a forward-facing harnessed restraint. It is safest children ride in a booster until they are 4’9” tall, or at least age 8.
A 2011 DPS observational survey of booster seat use revealed only 64 percent of parents/caregivers place children in booster seats. The survey also showed that if the driver was not belted, then only 27 percent of the children were in a booster.
Booster Seat Use Facts for Children Ages 4–7, 2008–2012
• 10 children killed and only two were properly restrained.
• Of the 2,121 children injured, less than half (1,005) were properly restrained in booster seats.
• Of the 6,170 children in a booster and in a crash, 84 percent were not injured.
“Traffic crashes are the leading killer of Minnesota children and one reason for this is parents are rushing children into a riding in just a seat belt before the child is tall enough,” says Heather Darby, DPS Office of Traffic Safety child passenger safety program coordinator. “Booster seats are critical to prevent improperly fitting seat belts, which can result in serious and fatal injuries.”
Seat belts must fit properly: The shoulder strap must be over the shoulder and chest, the lap belt over the hips, not the abdomen. Seat belts should never cut across the neck, and never place the shoulder strap under an arm or behind the back.
It’s safest for children to ride in the back seat until age 13.