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Car Seats


Almost 8 out of 10 North Dakotans use car seats wrong. Are your kids at risk?

76% of the car seats checked in 2016 had some form of misuse.

In passenger cars, correctly used car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent. Many parents are confident that they are using their car seats correctly but in most cases, the child has not been secured correctly or the car seat has not been installed correctly.


What you can do:

  • Make sure you’re using your seat correctly. Find a scheduled 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. 46% of car seats are not registered.
  • Remember that the law provides a good baseline for car seat use, but there’s more you can do. Learn the law and “best practices” of child passenger safety to help ensure your child is safe.

62% of car seats were installed wrong.

“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.

What you can do:

  • 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.
  • Install the seat tightly in your vehicle using the seat belt and tether (forward facing) OR lower anchors and tether (for forward facing). Use the top tether strap on forward-facing car seats. Without it, a car seat can have up to six inches excess movement in a crash.

60% of children were not correctly secured in their car seat.

Even a correctly installed car seat won’t secure a child who is not properly harnessed in. A few simple adjustments can make a big difference for your child’s safety.

What you can do:

  • Check your car seat manual, and thread harnesses through the correct slots for your child’s size. (Kids grow fast, so be sure to recheck 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.
  • A chest clip that is positioned too low may not hold your child in a crash. 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. Unapproved accessories, including head supports, have not been crash tested for your particular seat by the manufacturer.


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, or bring your child and car seat to a scheduled car seat checkup event. To find a child passenger safety technician, contact the North Dakota Department of Health, Child Passenger Safety Program at 800.472.2286,


North Dakota Law and Best Practices for Buckling Up


Car Seat Checkup Events


How to Find the Right Car Seat

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