Ask a Trooper: Can children (infants) ride in the front seat of vehicles?

Q: We live in Minnesota six months and Texas six months. In Texas, children (infants) are not allowed to ride in the front seat of a car or truck. I’ve noticed, in Minnesota children in the front seat is common. What is correct in Minnesota?

Answer: Minnesota does not have a law prohibiting this. It is considered safest and the best practice to keep children in the back seat until they reach age 13. Yes, some states do prohibit transporting children in the front seat until they are 13 years old. A reminder that a vehicle is the most dangerous place for children — and crashes are the leading killer of children under age 14. Even for those “quick trips,” crashes and safety do not take a break from anyone.

Minnesota statute requires children under age 8 to ride in a federally approved car seat or booster, unless the child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller. Here are the restraint steps a child should progress through as they age and grow:

• Rear-facing infant seats — For 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 toddler seats — For age 2 until around age 4. It’s preferable to keep children in a harnessed restraint as long as possible.

• Booster seats — For use once a child has outgrown a forward-facing harnessed restraint; it’s safest to remain in a booster until 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least age 8.

• Seat belts — A child is ready for an adult 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. Children 4 feet 9 inches tall or taller can correctly fit in a lap and shoulder belt.

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If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at [email protected])