ST. PAUL — 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.
Child Passenger Safety Week — Through Sept. 21
Child Passenger Safety Week runs through Sept. 21, and DPS is emphasizing the importance of correct child safety restraint and booster seat use to keep children safe while riding in a vehicle. In Minnesota, three out of four child restraints are used incorrectly — meaning children are riding in the wrong restraint or it is not properly secured.
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to visit buckleupkids.mn.gov for instructional videos for installing and using various car seats, and to find a local car seat check location.
DPS is conducting a Facebook child passenger safety question-and-answer session during 12:30–1:30 p.m. on Wed., Sept. 18, to provide helpful advice to parents and caregivers. Learn more at the DPS Office of Traffic Safety Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DPSTrafficSafety.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS)
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.
• Eight people were killed on Minnesota roads Sept. 6–9, making it one of the top three deadliest weekends of 2013. To-date, at least 11 people have been killed in September. Last year, September was the deadliest month of the year with 48 deaths.
• OTS projects around 415 traffic deaths for 2013, 20 more than the 395 deaths in 2012.
• On Aug. 26, OTS issued the 2012 Minnesota Impaired Driving Facts report, citing 104 drunk driving deaths for the year, down from 111 in 2011 and representing 100 fewer drunk driving deaths from a decade ago: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/educational-materials/Documents/IMPAIRED-DRIVING-FACTS-2012.pdf.
• OTS is investing federal grants totaling more than $7 million to 317 law enforcement agencies and community partner groups for enforcement and education campaigns, Oct. 2012–Sept. 30, 2013.
• OTS news archive: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/Pages/news.aspx.
• OTS PSA archive: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/audio-visual-library/Pages/default.aspx.
• Media are encouraged to localize traffic safety news by referencing county-specific crash facts: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/reports-statistics/Pages/Fact-sheets.aspx.