Child Passenger Safety
Reduce Their Risk
In 2010, more than 1,200 children ages 14 years and younger died in motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 171,000 were injured. But parents and caregivers can make a lifesaving difference.
Whenever you're on the road, make sure your child passengers are buckled in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, or seat belts. The safest place for children of any age to ride is properly restrained in the back seat. Data show that:
- In 2010, restraint use saved the lives of 303 children ages 4 and younger. Car seats reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers ages one to four.
- Booster seats reduce the risk for serious injury by 45% for children ages 4 to 8 years.
All children aged 12 and under should ride in the back seat. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an airbag.
Know the Stages
In an effort to raise parents' awareness about the leading causes of child injury in the United States and how they can be prevented, CDC launched the "Protect the Ones You Love" initiative. Parents can play a life-saving role in protecting children from injuries. Information is available in English and Spanish. Learn more.
Parents and caregivers can:
- Use a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short. This sets a good example.
- Make sure children are properly buckled up in a seat belt, booster seat, or car seat, whichever is appropriate for their age, height and weight.
Know the stages:
- Birth up to Age 2 – Rear-facing car seat. For the best possible protection, infants and children should be kept in a rear-facing car seat, in the back seat buckled with the seat’s harness, until they reach the upper weight or height limits of their particular seat. Check the seat’s owner’s manual 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 ride in forward-facing car seats, in the back seat buckled with the seat’s harness, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of their particular seat. Check the seat’s owner’s manual for weight and height limits.
- Age 5 up to at least Age 9 – Booster seat. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (by reaching the upper height and weight limits of their seat), they should ride in belt positioning booster seats. Remember to keep children in the back seat for the best possible protection.
- Once Seat Belts Fit Properly – Seat belts. Children should use booster seats until adult 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 fits across the chest (not the neck). The recommended height for proper seat belt fit is 57 inches tall. For the best possible protection keep children in the back seat and use lap-and-shoulder belts.
- Child Passenger Safety: Information and Resources
- Task Force on Community Preventive Services and the Community Guide: Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety
- CDC National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention
- CDC Childhood Injury Report
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Child Safety
Podcasts on Child Passenger Safety
- Restrain Your Children: Minute of Health with CDC [PODCAST - 0:59 minutes] (2011)
- Restrain Your Children: Cup of Health with CDC [PODCAST - 5:19 minutes] (2011)
- Buckle 'em Up: A Minute of Health with CDC [PODCAST - 0:59 minutes] (2009)
- Buckle 'em Up: A Cup of Health with CDC [PODCAST - 3:56 minutes] (2009)
- Are We There Yet?: A Cup of Health with CDC [PODCAST - 3:52 minutes] (2008)
- Staying Safe on the Road [PODCAST - 4:55 minutes] (2008)
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