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Office of Traffic Safety

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Frequently Asked Questions


What if my vehicle doesn't have a seat belt?

If your vehicle did not come with a factory installed seatbelt (usually those vehicles manufactured before January 1, 1965), then your vehicle is exempt from the seat belt and child passenger safety law. There would not be a safe way to transport your child in this case.

Can I transport my child in my pickup?

Yes, as long as your vehicle has proper seat belts or LATCH anchors to correctly install a child safety seat. If the pick up does not have a back seat and has an active airbag that can't be turned off, you could not safely transport a child in a rear-facing restraint.

Can my child sit in the front seat?

Minnesota does not have a law prohibiting this. It is considered safest and the best practice to keep children in the back seat until they reach age 13. Some states do prohibit transporting children in the front seat until they are 13 years old. If traveling to other states, be aware of their child passenger safety laws.

Can I use a second-hand seat?

Yes, as long as the seat is not more than six years old; it's free of recalls; has not been involved in a crash; all the labels are on the seat; the instruction manual is present; you know the individual who previously owned the seat; and you know the history of the seat. Purchasing seats from garage sales and re-sale shops are not recommended.

Why don't school buses have seat belts?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are statistically much safer (nearly 8 times safer) than passenger vehicles and only account for 0.2 percent of fatal crashes. Here are a few reasons why this is true:

  • School buses are larger and heavier, which means that the mass and weight of the bus is designed to take the bulk of the crash force. They are also far less likely to rollover in a crash.
  • School buses must be federally regulated to provide for compartmentalization. Compartmentalization means that the interior of large school buses must provide occupant protection so that children are protected without the need to buckle up. This is done through strong, closely spaced seats, energy absorbing foam seat backs, and a 24-inch seat height. It's easier to visualize this if you think about an egg carton and how it protects the eggs.
  • The chassis of the school bus is designed to separate from the body of the bus in a crash to slow down and spread the crash forces over the entire body of the bus.

When can my child start using a booster seat?

Children should remain in a harnessed restraint for as long as the height and weight limit on the seat allow. Ideally, children should not transition into a booster seat until they are at least 4 years old.

Does Minnesota have a recycling program for child safety seats?

Yes. Contact the county or city you live in to find out if they recycle car seats or visit the Recycle Your Car Seat website.