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Protect your kids in the car: Use a car seat and keep them in the back seat

Sep 27, 2022 06:43AM ● By Editor

Watch the Child Passenger Safety video here

From the Minnesota Department of Public Safety • September 27, 2022


“Dad, can I sit in the front seat?”

As a father of three, Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow is no stranger to the question. As a state trooper, he knows the answer should be "no” from parents until kids reach age 13.

“Children 12 and under should stay in back as long as possible,” said Sgt. Grabow. “We need to err on the side of safety each and every time we get in that vehicle.”

Our Office of Traffic Safety is urging all Minnesotans to keep kids safe in vehicles. The law may seem strict, but children pay with their lives if you don’t protect them with proper car seat use.

Of the 14,692 children ages 0-7 who were properly restrained in Minnesota crashes from 2017 to 2021, 88 percent were not injured, while another 9 percent sustained only minor injuries. Eighty-eight children were seriously injured in motor vehicles during the same time period. Of those, only 49 percent were known to be properly secured.​​​

In Minnesota, all children must be in a child restraint until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall, or at least age 8, whichever comes first. State law has steps for each stage of a child’s growth:

  • Rear-facing child seats: Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. It is safest to keep children rear-facing up to the maximum weight limit of the car seat. 

  • 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. Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat until he or she reaches the weight limit of the harness allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.

  • Booster seats: Use after outgrowing a forward-facing harnessed restraint. The booster must be used with a lap and shoulder belt. It is recommended to keep a child in a booster seat based on height rather than age.

  • Seat belts: Buckling up with a seat belt is for children 8 years old or who have reached 4 feet, 9 inches. Use when children can sit with their back against the vehicle seat, knees bent comfortably and completely over the edge without slouching, and feet touching the floor.

If you'd like your child's car seat checked, visit the Office of Traffic Safety website and click on your county to find out where you can go. For additional information about car seat safety, visit BuckleUpKids.dps.mn.gov.

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.