Families must obey booster seat laws

Published 10:08 am Monday, October 20, 2014

QUESTION: When can kids sit in the back seat of a car without a booster seat?

RESPONSE: In Minnesota, when children can sit with their back against the seat and have their knees bent comfortably over the vehicle seat edge with their feet touching the floor, they can safely be in the back seat of a car wearing their seatbelt when traveling. Booster seats should be used until a child is 4 feet, 9 inches tall, or until they are at least age 8, whichever comes first. Children age 2 to 4 should be using forward-facing toddler seats; it’s preferable to keep children in a harnessed restraint as long as possible. Rear-facing infant seats are recommended until a child is two years old.

Most Minnesota motorists are being influenced by the strengthened seat belt laws, enforcement and education and are making the right seat belt use choice. Before Minnesota’s first seat belt law in June, 1986, 20 percent of front seat vehicle occupants wore belts. The annual surveys show how far seat belt use has climbed since 1986: 64 percent in 1996, 83 percent in 2006, and, according to this year’s observational seat belt survey, the rate is holding steady at about 95 percent. Men are the drivers at the lowest rate of buckling up when traveling; however, the June 2014 observational seat belt survey showed that a record high of 92.8 percent of male front seat occupants were wearing their seat belts. This is the fourth year in a row that the rate was above 90 percent. (Way to go, men!)

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Oct.10 to 26 is the Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign, with extra police officers on the roads focusing on seat belt violations because most traffic injuries and fatalities are prevented when seat belts are used.

No seat belt in a 60 mph crash is equal to a 12-story fall. Buckle up!

To talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in child-raising, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 1-877-434-9528.  For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599.  Check out Room To Live on the Safe Roads webpage at www.familiesandcommunities.org.