According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, 93% of Minnesotans abide by the seat belt law and buckle up each year. Even so, 450 people have been seriously injured and 150 deaths have occurred in recent years as a result of accidents in which motorists were not wearing their seat belts.
In October, Minnesota’s “Click it or Ticket” campaign resulted in 8,569 motorists who were given tickets for not wearing a seat belt. Minnesota’s seat belt law requires that all seated drivers and their passengers wear a seat belt. Child passengers must be properly fitted in child safety restraints. In Minnesota, a seat belt ticket is $25, but it could cost more than $100 (with fees).
How to Correctly Wear a Seat Belt
Wearing your seatbelt, in case of an accident, could mean the difference between life and death. And wearing it properly can also help to limit and prevent injuries as well. In addition to the protection your seatbelt provides on its own, if you are not properly belted in you may find that your air bags won’t work effectively. When your vehicle crashes and the air bag deploys, it’s designed to work in conjunction with your seat belt, in order to keep you safely positioned. No seatbelt could mean no deployment or improper body placement at the point of impact, creating even greater injuries, even if the airbag should deploy.
Never tuck shoulder straps behind your back or under your arm. A seat belt should always fit snug and low across your hips. Not only is this the safest way to wear a seat belt, but if you wear a seat belt incorrectly, you could be pulled over and ticketed.
If you’re pregnant, wear the lap portion of your seat belt underneth your stomach. Making sure that the belt is as low on your hips as possible (against the upper thighs), and that the shoulder strap is resting firmly across the chest.
How to Keep Child Passengers Safe
Minnesota’s Office of Traffic Safety reports that three out of four child safety seats are used incorrectly. A motor vehicle poses a dangerous risk for children under the age of 14 years old, so it’s important to learn how to properly and safely restrain children.
Minnesota’s Child Passenger Restraint Lawrequires infants (under 20 pounds and one year old) to be placed in a rear-facing safety seat. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain in a rear-facing seat restraint until two years old.
Follow these tips to keep children safe while riding in motor vehicles:
- Install car safety seats according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- The restraint should not shift out from the seat or be more than one inch side-to-side.
- Make sure the safety harness is not loose – if you can pinch the harness material, then it needs to be tightened.
- The retainer clip should be at the level of your child’s armpit.
Minnesota Booster Seat Law
A booster seat allows children to be lifted up so an adult seat belt fits them properly. According to Minnesota’s booster seat law, children who are 4 years old and weigh 40-60 pounds must ride in a booster seat after they outgrow a forward-facing harness restraint. Children should use a vehicle booster seat until 8 years old (or 4 feet 9 inches tall), and it’s recommended that children remain in a booster seat based on their height and not just their age.