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Seat Belts


A record percentage of front seat occupants in Minnesotan are buckling up — 93 percent — yet about 40 percent of all  motorists killed in crashes aren’t belted — translating into an average of 105 deaths and more than 200 serious injuries each year.

Wearing your seat belt will keep you from:

  • Crashing into the windshield.
  • Slamming into and injuring other passengers.
  • Being ejected from the vehicle.

Seat belts restrain motorists in the vehicle’s designed protective space, giving them room to live in the event of a crash. Seat belts also keep a motorist correctly positioned behind the wheel to help maintain control of a vehicle.

You will never hear a person saying "I'm glad I didn't wear my seat belt" when they are involved in a crash, but you will find story after story from survivors who credit their seat belts for surviving a crash. Recently, a number of survivors shared their stories.

The Motorists in these vehicles credit their seat belts for surviving the crash

Minnesota’s Primary Seat Belt Law

Minnesota law states that drivers and passengers in all seating positions must be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint. Officers will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers. Seat belts must be worn correctly — low and snug across the hips, and shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.

Law enforcement will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers — including those in the back. A seat belt violation can cost more than $100.

Seat belt enforcement of this law begins with the motorist — speak up and insist passengers are buckled up.

Minnesota Child Car Seat Law

  • In Minnesota, all children must be in a child restraint until they are 4’9” tall, or at least age 8, whichever comes first.
  • Rear-facing child seats - Newborns to at least 1 year and 20 pounds.

 Choosing the Right Seat

  •  Rear-facing child seats – recommended up to age 2. It is safest to keep a child rear-facing as long as possible.
  • Forward-facing seats - Age 2 until around age 4. It's preferable to keep children in a harnessed restraint until they reach the maximum weight limit.
  • Booster seats - Use after outgrowing a forward-facing harnessed restraint; safest to remain in a booster until 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least age 8, whichever comes first.
  • Seat belts - Use when children can sit with their back against the seat and have their knees bent comfortably over the edge with their feet touching the floor.

Seat Belt Use Safety Tips

  • Always buckle up — and insist passengers are belted, too. In a crash, unbelted motorists can become a projectile, slamming into and injuring or killing others inside a vehicle.

  • Wear lap belts low and snug across the hips; shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back — not only is this unsafe, it is illegal.

  • Children under age 13 should always ride in the back seat. Kids under 4-feet 9-inches should be in a booster seat. Learn more about the child passenger safety and the booster seat law.   

  • Pregnant women should wear the lap belt under the stomach, as low on the hips as possible and against the upper thighs. The shoulder belt should rest between the breasts.

  • Airbags are designed to work with seat belts to keep vehicle occupants in a safe position during a crash — airbags are not effective when the motorist is not belted. 

Seat Belt Statistics  

  • In 2015, 91 unbelted motorists died on Minnesota roads.
  • Lack of seat belt use is a contributing factor in about 40 percent of all motorists killed.
  • In a crash, odds are four times greater for injury if a motorist is not buckled up.
  • In 2015, 87 percent of unbelted deaths occurred in Greater Minnesota.
  • In the last five years (2011 – 2015), of the 18 children ages 0 – 7 killed in traffic crashes, only 44 percent were property restrained, and only 41 percent of the 69 children seriously injured were properly secured.