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Child Passenger Safety

Are your kids at risk?

Did you know that 7 out of 10 North Dakotans use car seats wrong, which increases the risk of injury and death in a crash?

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.
In passenger cars, correctly used car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by
71% for an infant and 54% for toddlers.

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.

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 to 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 2017 in North Dakota, 58% 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.
In 2017 in North Dakota, 53% 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.

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.