According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are a leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old. Many deaths and injuries can be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts. Getting safety information and car seat instructions to parents and caregivers is crucial to saving young lives.
Every day in America, too many children ride in car seats that have been installed incorrectly, or are the wrong car seats for their age and size. Other children ride while completely unbuckled. According to the NHTSA, 59 percent of car seats are misused. To help combat the issue, they started raising awareness through Child Passenger Safety Week. It is a campaign dedicated to helping parents and caregivers make sure their children ride as safely as possible, every trip, every time. This year, Child Passenger Safety Week runs September 18 to 24.
Every 33 seconds, a child under 13 is involved in a crash. Using car seats that are age -and size- appropriate is the best way to keep your child safe. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children and car seats, booster seats, and seat belts can make all the difference. In 2014, there were 252 children under 5 saved because they were riding in the correct car seats. Car seats matter, and having the right car seat installed and used the right way is critical.
Too often, parents move their children to the front seat before they should, which increases the risk of injury and death. The safest place for all kids under 13 is in the back seats of cars. Also, according to NHTSA, about 24 percent of children 4 to 7 who should be riding in booster seats were prematurely moved to seat belts, and 9 percent were unbuckled altogether.
NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible up to the top height or weight allowed by their particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing-only “infant” car seat, he/she should travel in a rear-facing “convertible” or all-in-one car seat. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing size limits, the child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. After outgrowing the forward-facing car seats with harness, children should be placed in booster seats until they’re the right size to use seat belts safely.
Always remember to register your car seat and booster seat with the car seat manufacturer so you can be notified in the event of a recall. Parents and caregivers can view more information on car seat safety and locate a certified technician at www.safercar.gov/parents.
Key Statistics Provided by the NHTSA
Lives lost and injuries
- Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children.
- Every 33 seconds, one child under the age of 13 is involved in a crash.
- From 2010 to 2014, there were 3,181 children under 13 killed and about 601,000 children injured in car crashes.
- In 2014 alone, an estimated 112,000 children under 13 were injured as passengers in car crashes.
- On average, nearly 2 children under 13 were killed and 308 children were injured every day in 2014 while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans.
- From 2010 to 2014, there were 1,499 “tweens” (8 to 14) killed in cars, vans, and SUVs.
- In 2014, the age group 4 to 7 had the highest number of fatalities (213) among children.
- In 2014, over one-third (34%) of children under 13 killed in car crashes were not in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts.
Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts save lives
- In 2014, among children under 5, car seats saved an estimated 252 lives.
- An additional 37 children could have survived if car seat use was at 100 percent.
Car seats work best when used correctly
- In passenger cars, child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. For infants and toddlers in light trucks, the corresponding reductions were 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively.
- Most parents are confident they have correctly installed their child’s car seat, but in most cases (59%) the seat has not been installed correctly.
Child passenger safety laws
- For the past 30 years, all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories have had laws requiring children to be buckled while riding in cars.
- Some States now require kids to ride in appropriate car seats or booster seats until age 9.
- Failure to read and carefully follow the installation instructions included with a car seat as well as instructions in the vehicle owner's manual can lead to incorrect installation, exposing a child passenger to the risk of injury or death in a crash.
- All children under 13 should always ride in the back seats.
During Child Passenger Safety Week, car seat safety checks will be held across the country. We encourage all parents and caregivers to take advantage of this service to make sure their children are in the right car seats for their age and size, and that the seats are installed correctly. To locate an inspection station in your area, visit www.safercar.gov/parents.