When you have children in the car, selecting the right child seat is critical to keeping them safe. In Minnesota, any child younger than eight or under four feet nine inches must ride in a child passenger safety seat system when traveling in a motor vehicle.
How To Choose a Child Safety Seat?
Car seats must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions on height and weight and must meet federal motor vehicle safety standards. By law, newborn babies up to one year of age and at least 20 pounds must travel in a rear-facing car seat, but it is recommended to keep toddlers in a rear-facing seat as long as possible.
Minnesota law does not specifically mention the use of a forward-facing car seat. Still, once a rear-facing seat is outgrown according to the seat’s manufacturer’s instructions, children can transition into a forward-facing seat.
Forward-facing seats can typically be used until a child is four years old. However, always refer to the car seat manufacturer’s weight and height limit. Many last even longer and can hold anywhere between 60 to 100 pounds depending on the model.
After a child has outgrown their forward-facing car seat, they should still use a booster seat until they are at least four feet nine inches—usually around 8 to 12 years of age. Children should also remain in the back seat for as long as possible. Although Minnesota does not have a law prohibiting children from sitting in the front seat, it is recommended to wait until a child has at least reached age 13.
How Do Child Seats Protect Children?
Car seats and booster seats dramatically reduce the risk of children suffering serious personal injury or death in a collision. They provide protection in the following ways:
- Prevents Ejection: The harness provides the best protection against a child being ejected from the vehicle in an accident.
- Force of Crash on Strongest Parts of Body: A car seat is designed, so the body’s strongest areas absorb the force of impact from an accident. For older children, that is the hips and shoulders. For rear-facing infants and young children, it is the child’s back.
- Force of Crash Spread Across Body: Car seat harnesses help the force of impact from an accident spread across a large area rather than any one part of a child’s body.
- Provides “Ride Down”: A snug seat belt or properly installed car seat will provide “ride down” in a crash. This means that the body will slow down more gradually when there is a quick change in speed, reducing the risk of injury.
- Protection for the Head, Neck, and Spine: Car seat harnesses help to keep the head and upper body away from the hard surfaces inside the vehicle. Rear-facing car seats provide support for the head and neck, so they avoid stress and trauma to the head and spinal cord.
What Dangers Exist If Children are Not Properly Secured in a Child Seat?
Unfortunately, many children are injured and killed in car accidents because parents or caregivers do not follow child safety seat and seat belt laws and recommendations. A properly used car seat reduces the risk of injury by 71 to 82 percent for children compared to a seat belt alone.
Booster seats for children between the ages of 4 to 8 reduce serious injury risk by 45 percent. In collisions, the head can violently jerk forward, resulting in many spinal injuries in children because they have large heads and comparatively weak necks. For this reason, children should be kept in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible.
Contact the Minnesota Car Accident Law Firm of Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys For Help Today
For more information, please contact an experienced car accident lawyer at Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation today. We have three convenient locations in Minnesota, including Minneapolis, St. Cloud, and Edina.