Safety restraints protect passengers in the event of a car crash or a sudden stop.
Without these systems, you can easily be thrown out of a car or hit the windshield, which can cause serious injuries.
And nobody wants that — especially for their young children.
But let’s admit it, sometimes it’s easier to just let your child sit in the back seat.
Or maybe on your lap even.
However, doing that is not only putting your child in so much danger, it’s also breaking the law.
What does North Dakota have to say about safety restraints?
Let’s go over the North Dakota car seat laws and seat belt laws. This way, you can follow it all and keep everyone safe.
North Dakota Car Seat Laws and Child Passenger Tips
The North Dakota car seat law states that…
“Children below 8 years old are required to be properly restrained in either a car seat or booster seat. If the child is already 57 inches tall, they are allowed to use a seat belt.”
But you might be wondering, “What car seat should you use?”
While the state doesn’t have specific laws for that, they recommend the car seat manufacturer’s guidelines.
For example, if a rear-facing car seat can fit a 2-year-old, then you can use it for your 2-year-old.
Here are other general car seat guidelines:
- Children below 2 years old are recommended to be in a rear-facing car seat. Parents are urged to keep them in this type of car seat until they outgrow its limits.
- A forward-facing car seat is often used for children 2-5 years old. It’s only when they outgrow this that they are recommended to use a booster seat.
- As long as the child is below 8 years old and below 57 inches, they should stay in a booster seat.
North Dakota Car Seat Penalties
What happens if you don’t place your child in a car seat or booster seat?
Since the North Dakota car seat law is a primary enforcement, you will be pulled over by a law enforcement officer. The driver will then be fined $25 and will have 1 point added to their driver’s license.
Child Passenger Safety Tips
Besides the car seat law, you should also keep these child passenger safety tips in mind.
- Choose the right car seat. Look at the manufacturer’s guidelines on the age or weight limit.
- Make sure that the car seat is installed properly. It shouldn’t move more than an inch if you push it.
- Do not place a thick jacket or blanket underneath the harness of the car seat. This will put a gap between the harness and the child’s body. If it’s cold, fasten the harness first then put a blanket over your child.
- Keep children 13 years old or under in the back seat.
- Do not leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
- Do not place a rear-facing car seat beside an airbag.
- Don’t allow children to ride on the bed of a pickup.
- Don’t use one seat belt for 2 children.
- If you’re driving, make sure that you can minimize the distractions they might cause.
Did you know that vehicle heat stroke is very common for babies?
If you leave your toddler in a vehicle, their body temperature can rise very quickly. And since they are unable to regulate their own temperature, a heat stroke occurs.
So here are some tips to prevent this:
- Don’t leave your children inside a vehicle. Make it a habit to look before you lock.
- Don’t give your children access to the car keys. They can easily enter the vehicle and lock themselves inside.
- If you are returning to your car, leave the doors and windows open before you enter to let the hot air go out.
- Avoid leaving any objects that may absorb heat inside the car.
- Park your vehicle in the shade.
- If you see a child alone in a car, take action by calling for help — even if it isn’t your child.
North Dakota Seat Belt Law
Are children the only ones that should buckle up?
Of course not!
The North Dakota seat belt law states that:
- Seat belts are required for all front-seat occupants.
- Occupants under 18 years old are required to wear seat belts, no matter if they are seated in the front or back.
And even though it isn’t a law per se, all adult passengers in the back seat are urged to wear seat belts for their own safety.
North Dakota Seat Belt Penalties
For front passengers, the seat belt law is only a secondary offense. As for the seat belt law for those under 18 years old, it is primary enforcement.
So if a minor is spotted not wearing a seat belt, the driver will be pulled over, fined, and given points to their license.
But what is a secondary offense?
A police officer cannot ask you to stop unless there is another violation they caught you doing.
If you are caught with a violation and you are also caught not wearing a seat belt, you will be given a fine of $20 for the latter. Other fines and points will depend on the primary violation you were caught for.
How to Wear A Seat Belt Properly
Remember, seat belts only work when they are worn properly. When one of the harnesses is used incorrectly, the ability of the seat belt to keep you in place is greatly reduced.
For complete safety, follow these steps on how to wear a seat belt:
- If you’re a driver, adjust the seat so you can still reach the pedals and steering wheel even when you’re wearing a seat belt.
- Sit upright and keep your back against the seat.
- Put the lap belt across your pelvis and the shoulder belt across your chest and shoulders. Do not place the shoulder belt under your arm.
- Fasten the seat belt. Make sure it feels snug.
A lot of people think, “I have airbags in my car, I don’t need to wear a seat belt.”
What you should know is that airbags are only supplements to seat belts. These devices alone cannot prevent injuries.
The primary purpose of an airbag is to provide a cushion between you and the windshield in case of a sudden stop or collision. But if you aren’t wearing a seat belt, you can fly around and hit other things.
The best way to reap the benefits of an airbag is to wear a seat belt.
So those were the North Dakota car seat laws and seat belt laws.
In summary, car seats and seat belts are the best way to prevent injuries in a crash. But they only work if they’re used properly.
And airbags? They only supplement safety restraint systems.
Now that you know the State’s laws on these systems, always remember to obey them — it’s for your and your child’s safety.
Always choose safety!