State booster seat law takes effect July 1ST. PAUL — Minnesota children under age 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches tall must be in a child safety seat or booster seat, effective July 1.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota children under age 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches tall must be in a child safety seat or booster seat, effective July 1. Under the booster law, children cannot use a seat belt alone until they are age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall — whichever comes first. To ensure child safety, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) recommends parents keep children in a booster based on their height, rather than their age.
DPS reports only 30 percent of Minnesota children use boosters. In the last five years in Minnesota, 2004–2008, 18 children passengers ages 4–8 were killed in crashes and 3,047 were injured.
Booster seats lift a child up allowing for proper seat belt fit — the lap belt low and snug across the hips and the shoulder belt snug across the middle of the chest. Typically children around age 4 and more than 40 pounds are ready for a booster, upon outgrowing a forward-facing child safety seat. Before the law takes effect, DPS officials are reminding parents and caregivers to secure a booster seat for children to be in compliance with the law. A booster seat citation is more than $100.
“Boosters are common sense safety tools to ensure children are riding as safe as possible in a vehicle,” says Heather Darby, DPS child passenger safety coordinator. “Children who are shorter than 4 feet 9 simply aren’t tall enough to use a seat belt alone, if they do, a belt may do more damage than good in case of a crash.”
Child passenger safety officials say the importance of boosters is underscored by death and injuries associated with poor seat belt fit — including ejection, internal decapitation and serious abdominal damage.
The booster law further strengthens the state’s motor vehicle occupant protection laws, accompanying the primary seat belt law that went into effect June 9. The primary law means drivers and all passengers must be belted or in a child restraint to avoid being stopped and ticketed by law enforcement.