Ask A Trooper: How does the ‘hands-free’ law affect drivers under 18?

Question: I have heard a lot about “click it or ticket” recently. I thought seat belt use was at an all-time high?

Answer:  Most Minnesotans are making the life-saving decision to buckle up. According to the 2018 Minnesota Seat Belt Survey, 92.4 percent of front seat occupants are wearing their seat belts. Unfortunately, that means more than 7 percent of motorists continue to risk their lives and the lives of those in the vehicle by failing to buckle up.

Riding without a seat belt is gambling with your life. Preliminary numbers show 92 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads in 2018. This is the reason why education and enforcement are necessary: to save lives. We’d rather meet you on the shoulder of the road now than at a violent crash scene down the road.

More than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state are participating in the statewide Click It or Ticket campaign May 20-June 2. The Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the extra enforcement and education campaign. 

Law enforcement working overtime patrols will be on the lookout for unbelted motorists. All passengers must be properly restrained – even those in the back seat. All children must also be buckled in the proper child seat.  

A seat belt is your best defense in case of a crash – every time you get into a vehicle, be the voice of reason and speak up – remind everyone to buckle up.

Minnesota Child Seat Law and Steps:

• In Minnesota, all children must be in a child restraint until they are 4’ 9” tall, or at least age 8, whichever comes first. 

• Rear-facing child seats - Newborns to at least 1 year and 20 pounds; recommended up to age 2. It is safest to keep a child rear-facing as long as possible.

• Forward-facing seats - Age 2 until around age 4. It’s preferable to keep children in a harnessed restraint until they reach the maximum weight limit.

• Booster seats - Use after outgrowing a forward-facing harnessed restraint; safest to remain in a booster until 4’ 9” tall, or at least age 8, whichever comes first. 

• Seat belts - Use when children can sit with their back against the vehicle seat and have their knees bent comfortably over the edge with their feet touching the floor. Belts should be worn snug across the hips or thighs and should never be tucked under the arm or behind the back.  

Sgt. Neil Dickenson is Minnesota State Patrol Public Information Officer for the state’s northeast region. Send questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues to or by mail to Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth MN 55811. Follow Dickenson on Twitter at @MSPPIO_NE. 

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