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Child Passenger Safety

Are your kids at risk?

Did you know that of the car seats checked in 2019, 70% had some form of misuse?

Many caregivers are confident that they are using car seats correctly, but in most cases, the child has been secured incorrectly or the car seat has been installed incorrectly. To ensure your child's safety, visit the North Dakota Department of Health's website for additional information.
 
In passenger cars, correctly used car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by
71% for an infant and 54% for toddlers.
 

Best Practices

Follow these best practices when buckling children up. 
  • Rear-Facing - Children should ride rear-facing as long as possible.
  • Forward-Facing - When children have outgrown the highest rear-facing size limits of their car seat, they may ride forward-facing in a vehicle with a harness. Use the seat until the child reaches the highest size limits allowed by the manufacturer. 
  • Boosters - When children have outgrown the harness in their forward-facing car seat, they may be moved to a belt-positioning booster seat. Keep children in boosters until they are about 4'9" tall or until the seat belt fits correctly over the body. 
  • Seat Belt - When children have outgrown their booster seat, they may use a seat belt when it fits over the body correctly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs and be snug across the shoulder and chest. It should NOT lie on the stomach or across the neck. 
 

Ensure Your Child is Safe and Properly Secured:

  • Make sure you're using your car seat correctly. Find a car seat checkup event in your area. A Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician will make sure you're using the correct seat for your child's age, size and development, it's installed correctly and your child is secured as per the car seat instructions.
  • Register your car seat with the manufacturer in case of recalls. You can do this by sending in the paper form that comes with the car seat or online.
  • Remember that the law provides a good baseline for car seat use, but there's more you can do. Learn the "best practices" for child passenger safety.

In 2019 in North Dakota, 56% of car seats were installed incorrectly.


Install Your Car Seat Properly

"Good enough" is not good enough when installing your car seat. Car seats and vehicles vary, and it is important to know and follow the manufacturer's specifications:
 
  • Read your car seat instructions and check your vehicle owner's manual.
  • Make sure your car seat is not installed too loosely in the vehicle. Use the inch test to check for tightness. A correctly installed car seat should not move more than an inch, left to right and front to back.
  • For forward-facing car seats, don't forget to use the tether strap.
    • Using the tether could be the difference between a brain injury or no injury at all. Find out more about tether straps here

In 2019 in North Dakota, 57% of children were not correctly
secured in their car seats.

 

Secure Your Child Correctly

A correctly installed car seat won't secure a child who is not properly secured in a car seat. A few simple adjustments can make a big difference for your child's safety.
 
  • Check your car seat manual, and thread the harness through the correct slots for your child's size. Kids grow fast, so be sure to check often! Make sure the harness is not too loose. With your child securely buckled, you should not be able to pinch any excess slack in the harness. Do not put a child in a car seat with a bulky coat, as this creates more room between them and the harness. You can see how loose the harness is when putting a child in a car seat wearing a coat vs. without a coat.
  • The function of the chest clip is to properly position the harness. Move the chest clip to armpit level to finish securing your child in the car seat.
  • Don't use car seat accessories unless they came with the car seat. Accessories such as extra head supports, seat covers, harness covers, mirrors, hanging toys etc. may cause harm to a child in a crash as they have not been crash tested. They could also interfere with how the car seat may perform in a crash.

North Dakota Child Passenger Safety Law

  • Children younger than 8 years of age are required to ride in a child restraint (car seat or booster seat). The restraint must be used correctly - following manufacturer's instructions.
  • A correctly-used seat belt may be substituted for children younger than age 8 who are at least 4'9" tall.
  • Children ages 8 through 17 must be properly secured in a seat belt or child restraint (car seat or booster seat).
  • Children younger than 18 must be properly restrained regardless of their location in a vehicle.
Resources:
Confused about car seats? Help is available. Have your child's car seat or booster seat checked by one of the many certified child passenger safety technicians available throughout the state. To find a child passenger safety technician or a scheduled car seat checkup event, contact the North Dakota Department of Health, Child Passenger Program at 800-427-2286.