BISMARCK, N.D. –(Jennifer Skjod) - More children in North
Dakota soon will be riding safely because of changes in the state’s
child passenger safety law.
Effective August 1, children younger than
eight years of age will be required to ride in a child restraint (car
seat or booster seat) unless they are 4’9” tall or greater. The
restraints must be used correctly – following the manufacturer’s
instructions. Children ages eight through 17 must be properly secured
in a seat belt (or restraint, if needed). The law carries a penalty
of $25 and one point against the driver’s license.
According to Dawn Mayer, director of the North Dakota Department
of Health (NDDoH) Child Passenger Safety Program, “This revision
basically extends the time a child is required to ride in a child
restraint (car seat or booster seat) by one year.” Child restraints
offer more protection for children than just seat belts. Most
children at age seven should be riding in a booster seat with a lap
and shoulder belt because they are not tall enough to ride in a seat
Booster seats are belt positioning devices that help position the
lap and shoulder belt safely across a child’s body – low on the
hips and centered across the chest. It is required to use both the
lap and shoulder seat belt when using a booster seat.
Booster seats come in two general types – backless boosters and
high-back boosters. High-back boosters are recommended if the vehicle
seatback does not offer head protection (meaning the vehicle seat
back is lower than passenger’s ears).
The NDDoH recommends all children younger than 13 years ride in
the back seat. Follow these best practices when it comes to
transporting children of all sizes:
Rear-Facing: Children should ride rear-facing until at
least two years of age (following car seat instructions) or until the
upper size limits of the car seat.
Forward-Facing: When children are at least two years of age
or have outgrown the highest rear-facing size limits of their car
seat, they may ride forward-facing in a car seat with a harness. Use
the seat until the child reaches the harness’s highest size limit
allowed by the manufacturer.
Boosters: When children have outgrown the harness in their
forward-facing car seat, they may utilize a booster seat. Children
should be at least 40 pounds and at least four years of age. Keep
children in boosters until about 4’9” tall.
Seat Belt: When children have outgrown their booster seat,
they may use a seat belt when it fits over their body correctly. For
a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the
upper thighs and be centered across the shoulder and chest. It should
not lie on the stomach or across the neck.
A fact sheet for the public explaining the revised law and child
passenger best practices for transporting children is available on
the Department of Health’s website at