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State program provided 4,591 car seats

A state program administered by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety has provided 4,591 car seats during the last two years to families in need.

The Child Passenger Restraint and Education Account addresses the needs of low-income families to transport children safely. Child passenger safety seat violations fund the account to pay for the car seats. The program began in 1994.

Families that meet low-income guidelines may be eligible to receive car seats. There are more than 100 locations statewide where car seats are distributed. Car seats are made available through local public health offices, hospitals, law enforcement, fire departments and other agencies in partnership with DPS.

"The opportunity to make outreach to these families and assist them in protecting their children is critical to raising healthy families," said Heather Darby, DPS child passenger safety coordinator. "Traffic crashes are the leading killer of children age 14 and younger, and this fact can be remedied with education and proper use of car seats."

Families who receive a car seat also receive an education and demonstration session from a trained child passenger safety technician to ensure they understand how to properly use the restraint.

When used correctly, child seats reduce the chance of death by 70 percent for infants younger than 1 year old and by 54 percent for toddlers ages 1-4. A belt positioning booster with a lap-and-shoulder seat belt reduces a child's risk of injury by 59 percent.