New CDC Vital Signs: Child Passenger Safety

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New CDC Vital Signs: Child Passenger Safety

One in three children who died in crashes in 2011 was not buckled up, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report. CDC analyzed 2002–2011 data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to determine the number and rate of motor-vehicle occupant deaths, and the percentage of child deaths among children age 12 and younger who were not buckled up. Motor vehicle crash deaths among children age 12 and younger decreased by 43 percent in the past decade (2002-2011), however, more than 9,000 children died in crashes during that period.

Research has shown that using age- and size-appropriate child restraints (car seats, booster seats, and seat belts) is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries in a crash, yet only 2 out of every 100 children live in states that require car seat or booster seat use for children age 8 and under. Almost half of all black (45 percent) and Hispanic (46 percent) children who died in crashes were not buckled up, compared to 26 percent of white children (2009-2010).

To help keep children safe on the road, parents and caregivers can:

  • Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, and seat belts in the back seat—on every trip, no matter how short.
    • Rear-facing car seat from birth up to age 2. Buckle children in a rear-facing seat until age 2 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of that seat.
    • Forward-facing car seat from age 2 up to at least age 5. When children outgrow their rear-facing seat, they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat until at least age 5 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of that seat.
    • Booster seat from age 5 up until seat belt fits properly. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, they should be buckled in a booster seat until seat belts fit properly. The recommended height for proper seat belt fit is 57 inches tall.
    • Seat belt once it fits properly without a booster seat. 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).
  • Install and use car seats according to the owner’s manual or get help installing them from a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.
  • Buckle children age 12 and under in the back seat.

CDC’s Injury Center works to protect the safety of everyone on the roads, every day. For more information, please visit www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety.

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