Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. However, many of these deaths can be prevented if we would just take the time to properly place our kids in their seats.
Scope of the Problem
Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. But many of these deaths can be prevented.
Risk Reduction for Every Age
Buckling children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts reduces the risk of serious and fatal injuries:
Cart seat use reduces for death to infants (age<1 year) by 71%; and to toddlers (ages 1-4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles.
Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4-8 years, when compared to seat belt use.
For older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half.
Preventing Motor Vehicle Injuries in Children
Based on strong evidence of effectiveness, the Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends car seat laws and car seat distribution plus education programs to increase restraint use and decrease injuries and deaths to child passengers
Car seat distribution plus education programs are also recommended in a more recent review for increasing restraint use
A study of five states that increased the age requirement to 7 or 8 years for car seat/booster seat use found that the rate of children using car seats and booster seats increased nearly three times and the rate of children who sustained fatal or incapacitating injuries decreased by 17
Guidelines for Parents and Caregivers
Know the stages
Make sure children are properly buckled up in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, whichever is appropriate for their age, height and weight.
Birth up to Age 2: Rear-facing car seat. For the best possible protection, infants and children should be buckled in a rear-facing car seat, in the back seat, until age 2 or when they reach the upper weight or height limits of their particular seat. Check the seat’s owner’s manual and/or labels on the seat for weight and height limits.
Age 2 up to at least Age 5: Forward-facing car seat. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat, in the back seat, until at least age 5 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of their particular seat. Check the seat’s owner’s manual and/or labels on the seat for weight and height limits.
Age 5 up until seat belts fit properly: Booster seat. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, (by reaching the upper height or weight limit of their seat), they should be buckled in a belt positioning booster seat until seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck). Remember to keep children properly buckled in the back seat for the best possible protection.
Once Seat Belts Fit Properly without a Booster Seat: Seat Belt Children no longer need to use a booster seat once seat belts fit them properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck). For the best possible protection keep children properly buckled in the back seat.
Install and Use Car & Booster Seats Properly Install and use car seats and booster seats according to the seat’s owner’s manual or get help installing them from a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Find a child passenger safety technician.
Seat Children in the Back Seat Buckle all children aged 12 and under in the back seat.
Don't Seat Children in Front of an Airbag Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an air bag.
Seat Children in the Middle of the Back Seat Buckle children in the middle of the back seat when possible, because it is the safest spot in the vehicle.
Use Proper Restraints Every Trip Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every trip, no matter how short.
Parents and Caregivers: Always Wear a Seat Belt Set a good example by always using a seat belt themselves.
In the United States during 2014, 602 children ages 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes,4 and more than 121,350 were injured.1
One CDC study found that, in one year, more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time.5
Of the children ages 12 years and younger who died in a crash in 2014, 34% were not buckled up