Child passenger safety

Follow these guidelines to ensure the safest approach to securing the youngest members of your family while transporting them in a vehicle:

  • Rear-facing infant seats in the back seat from birth to at least one year old and at least 20 pounds.
  • Forward-facing toddler seats in the back seat from age one to about age four and 20 to 40 pounds.
  • Booster seats in the back seat from about age four and 40 pounds to at least age eight, unless 4′9″.
  • Safety belts at age eight or older or taller than 4′9″. All children 12 and under should ride in the back seat.

Moving to a safety belt too early greatly increases risk of injury. Children age two to five who are prematurely graduated to safety belts are four times more likely to sustain a serious head injury than those restrained in child safety seats or booster seats.

Because many state laws only require children to be in a safety seat up to age four or so, many parents assume older kids are safe in just a safety belt. However, all children need to be restrained correctly whenever they ride in a motor vehicle.

The vast majority of child safety seats are used incorrectly. According to a 2002 National SAFE KIDS Campaign study, more than 81 percent of child restraints are used incorrectly, including 88 percent of forward-facing toddler seats, 86 percent of rear-facing infant seats and 85 percent of safety belts, as determined at child passenger safety seat inspection stations across the country.

Child passenger safety technicians have found and corrected numerous installation errors in seats installed by parents and caregivers. The Minnetonka Police Department offers free child safety seat inspections by appointment by calling 952.939.8576.