Department of Public Safety

With three of four child seats not used correctly and half of all traffic fatalities involving unbelted drivers and passengers, law enforcement agencies across the state will be focusing on car seat and seat belt use starting Friday and continuing through March 30.

Nearly 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies are adding extra patrols during the campaign, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).

While a record-number of Minnesotans buckle up (94 percent), approximately 150 deaths and 400 serious injuries annually involve motorists who are not buckled up, the DPS says. Preliminary 2013 data shows 94 fatalities and 247 serious injuries were reported where the motor vehicle occupant was unbelted. (This count is expected to rise as 2013 data continues to come in.)

In addition, preliminary reports show two children under the age of 8 who were not properly restrained in a car seat were killed and seven more were seriously injured last year.

“Far too many people die or are seriously injured on our roads because they didn’t buckle up,” said Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director. “It’s the law – all motorists must buckle up, even when riding in the back seat. Seat belts and child seats can – and do – save lives.”

The state’s seat belt law is a primary offense, meaning drivers and passengers in all seating positions must be buckled up or in the correct child restraint. A seat belt ticket can cost between $25 to more than $100.

The DPS says children under age 13 should always ride in the back seat. A child who is both under age 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches is required to be fastened in a child safety seat or booster seat that meets federal safety standards. Under the law, a child cannot use a seat belt alone until they are age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall – whichever comes first. It is recommended to keep a child in a booster based on their height, rather than their age.

Learn more about child passenger safety and the booster seat law.