CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY

Child Passenger Safety

 

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for American children aged five to fourteen.[1] An average of three children under age 14 were killed and 469 were injured every day in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. during 2011.[2] In 2011, 282 children age four through seven died in motor vehicle crashes.[3]

Booster seats are intended to provide a platform that lifts the child up off the vehicle seat in order to improve the fit of the child in the adult safety belt. They should also position the lap belt portion of the adult safety belt across the child's hips or pelvic area. An improper fit of an adult safety belt can cause the lap belt to ride up over the stomach and the shoulder belt to cut across the neck, potentially exposing the child to serious abdominal or neck injury. Additionally, if the shoulder strap portion of the lap/shoulder belt is uncomfortable, children will likely place it behind their backs, defeating the safety benefits of the system. When children are properly restrained in a child safety seat, booster seat or safety belt, as appropriate for their age and size, their chance of being killed or seriously injured in a car crash is greatly reduced.

BOOSTER SEAT SAFETY FACTS

·         Using a booster seat with a seat belt instead of a seat belt alone reduces a child's risk of injury in a crash by 59%.[4]

·         When used properly, child safety seats reduce fatal injury by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers in passenger cars.[5]

·         In 2011, there were 274 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities among children age 4 or younger and of those, where restraint use was known, 30% were totally unrestrained.[6]

·         An estimated 263 lives were saved in 2011 by restraining children under 5 in passenger vehicles.[7]

·         Across all age groups, injury risk is lowest (less than 2 percent) when children are placed in an age-appropriate restraint in the rear seat.[8]

·         20% of all drivers of child passengers did not read any instructions on how to properly install their child restraints.[9]

·         The best way to protect children age 12 and under from risks posed by air bags is to place them in the back seat, properly restrained by the appropriate child safety seat, booster seat or safety belt.[10]

BOOSTER SEAT LAW FACTS

·         Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have booster seat laws. Only 31 of those states and DC require booster seats for children ages 4 through 7, as recommended by Advocates. Two states (Florida and South Dakota) still do not have any booster seat law.[11]

·         According to NHTSA's 2008 data, restraint use for children from birth to age 1 was 99%, from ages 1 to 3 was 92%, ages 4 to 7 was 89% and ages 8 to 12 was 85%.[12]

·         A Harris public opinion poll found that 84% of Americans support all states having booster seat laws protecting children ages 4 to 8.[13]

·         An analysis of the enactment of the upgraded child restraint law in New York found that laws requiring the use of booster seats or other appropriate child restraints for children 4, 5, or 6 years of age resulted in an 18% decrease in the injury rate and a 72% increase in the child restraint use rate amongst 4 to 6 year olds.[14]

·         Expanded child restraint laws covering children through ages 7 and 8  were associated with:

o    5 percent reduction in the rate of children with  injuries of any severity;

o   17 percent reduction in the rate of children with fatal and incapacitating injuries;

o   Children being 3 times as likely to be in appropriate restraints;

o   And a 6 percent increase in the number of booster age children seated in the rear of the vehicle where children are more protected.[15]

 

Click here for the fact sheet on booster seat laws.

Click here for more information about state legislative activity related to Child Passenger Safety.

Click here for more information about federal activity related to motor vehicle safety. 



[1]   10 leading Causes of Injury Deaths by Age Group Highlighting Unintentional Injury Deaths, United States – 2010, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, available at http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/10lcid_unintentional_deaths_2010-a...

[2]   Traffic Safety Facts 2011 Data: Children, NHTSA. July 2012, DOT HS 811 767, available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811767.pdf

[3]   Traffic Safety Facts 2011 Data: Children, NHTSA. July 2012, DOT HS 811 767, available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811767.pdf

[4]   Durbin, D.R.; Elliott, M.R.; and Winston, F.K. 2003. Belt-positioning booster seats and reduction in risk of injury among children in vehicle crashes. Journal of the American Medical Association 289:2835-40.

[5]   Traffic Safety Facts 2011 Data: Children, NHTSA. July 2012, DOT HS 811 767, available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811767.pdf

[6]   Traffic Safety Facts 2011 Data: Children, NHTSA. July 2012, DOT HS 811 767, available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811767.pdf

[7]   Traffic Safety Facts 2011 Data: Children, NHTSA. July 2012, DOT HS 811 767, available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811767.pdf

[8]   Durbin, D.R.; Chen, I.; Smith, R.; Elliott, M.R.; and Winston, F.K. 2005. Effects of Seating Position and Appropriate Restraint Use on the Risk of Injury to Children in Motor Vehicle Crashes. Pediatrics115:e305, available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/115/3/e305.full.pdf+html

[9]   Traffic Safety Facts Research Note: National Child Restraint Use Special Study, NHTSA, September 2012, DOT HS 811 679, available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811679.pdf

[10] Traffic Safety Facts 2011 Data: Children, NHTSA. July 2012, DOT HS 811 767, available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811767.pdf

[11] 2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Jan. 2013, available at http://saferoads.org/files/FINAL%20ROADMAP%20REPORT_0.pdf

[12] Traffic Safety Facts Research Note: Child Restraint Use in 2008 – Overall Results, NHTSA, May 2009, DOT HS 811 135, available at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811135.pdf

[13] Lou Harris poll conducted for Advocates for highway and Auto Safety, 2004.

[14] Effects of Upgraded Child Restraint Law Designed to Increase Booster Seat Use in new York, Sun, K.; Bauer, M.J.; Hardman, S; Pediatrics, Aug. 9, 2010.

[15] Kids in Crashes Far Better IF States Have Tough Restraint laws, IIHS Status Report, V. 46, No. 9, Oct. 2011.

 

June 2013

 

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