10 years later, Minnesota seat belt law saves countless lives

Ten years after it was first implemented, Minnesota's seat belt law has saved countless lives.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, a young woman's death inspired the law to be passed in 2009. 

The Click It or Ticket campaign, which runs May 20 through June 2, reminds motorists that seat belts and car seats will protect them in a crash. The state’s primary seat belt law requires drivers and passengers in all seating positions to buckle up or be seated in the correct child restraint.

The law took effect on June 9, 2009 in honor of 15-year-old Meghan Cooper, who died in 1999 after she was ejected from the rear seat of a car during a crash. She was not wearing a seat belt.

According to officials, one year before the law was passed, 152 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads. In 2018, preliminary numbers show that number decreased to 92.

From 2004 to 2008, 51 percent of all fatalities (1,008) were known to be unbelted motorists. Between 2014 and 2018, that number decreased to 34 percent (446).

Seat Belt Rules

Seat belts must be worn correctly — low and snug across the hips, and shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.

Children 8 years old (or 4' 9'' or taller) should wear a seat belt when they can sit with their back against the vehicle seat, knees bent comfortably and completely over the vehicle seat edge without slouching, and feet touching the floor.

Minnesota Child Car Seat Law and Steps

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

Rear-facing seats - All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they have reached the height and weight limits allowed by the car seat manufacturer. 

Forward-facing seats with harness - Toddlers and preschoolers who have reached the height and weight limits of the rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing seat with harness until they reach the weight limit of the harness allowed by the car seat manufacturer.

Booster seats - For school-age children who have reached the height and weight limits of the forward-facing seat. The booster must be used with a lap and shoulder belt.