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In recent weeks, Minnesota and Texas joined the growing chorus of states that are strengthening laws on the use of child safety restraint devices in cars, by raising the minimum age at which young passengers must be secured in special safety seats.
On May 15, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed a law that will require kids age 7 and younger (or less than 4'9" tall) to be in a child safety seat when they ride in cars, as of July 1st. And on May 29, a new Texas law that mirrors the Minnesota child restraint legislation was passed, to take effect on September 1 of this year.
So, Minnesota and Texas now join 22 other states that already require children aged 7 and younger to be in a special child passenger restraint system, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
For an up-to-date listing of all state child restraint laws -- including ages at which a child must be in an infant or booster seat, ages at which the use of an adult seat belt by a child is permissible, and maximim fines for the first offense of child restraint laws, check out this State-by-State Chart of Child Restraint Laws, from the IIHS.
When it comes to the safety of children in cars, it's obviously important to be in compliance with state laws on the proper use of safety seats that are appropriate for a child's age and size. But there are many more child safety tips that parents and caregivers should keep in mind as families pack up the minivan or the SUV and take to the highways for vacation: Kids and Cars: 10 Safety Tips.