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Embargoed until Noon ET February 8, 2002
Contact: CDC, National Center for Injury
Prevention & Control

Fact Sheet

Child Passenger Safety

National Child Passenger Safety Week focuses public attention on a sobering fact -- motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. CDC believes that all children deserve to ride safely in motor vehicles -- properly restrained in the back seat. Studies show that many child passengers regularly ride without restraints. CDC recommends stricter enforcement of child safety seat laws, which currently exist in all 50 states. To help communities and parents, CDC monitors trends in child passenger injuries, conducts research to understand risk factors for this age group, and funds and evaluates programs to prevent injuries to children. CDC has conducted systematic reviews of community-based efforts to improve child passenger safety and is currently working to disseminate the findings. More information on their findings can be found at

  • In 2000, 1283 children ages 0-12 died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and another 228,619 received injuries requiring emergency department treatment.

  • All children 12 years old and younger should ride in the back seat. This reduces the risk of fatal injury by more than 30%.

  • Few states have laws requiring children to be placed in the back seat.

  • Children who have out grown their child safety seats (usually when they weigh about 40 pounds) should be placed in booster seats. They should continue to ride in booster seats until the lap/shoulder belts in the car fit properly, typically when they are 4'9" tall.

For more information on the MMWR "Notice to Readers" visit

For more information on ways to increase child safety seat use:

For more information about injuries, visit the CDC's website at:

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This page last reviewed February 7, 2002

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention