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Notice to Readers: Child Passenger Safety Week, February 10--16, 2002

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. In 2000, 1,283 child passengers aged 0--12 years died in motor vehicle crashes (1), and 214,884 received injuries requiring emergency department treatment (2). Child Passenger Safety Week, February 10--16, will focus on interventions to prevent these injuries and deaths.

Placing children in age-appropriate restraint systems reduces serious and fatal injuries by approximately half. Children should be placed in age-appropriate child safety seats until at least age 8 years. Child-restraint laws have been enacted in all 50 states and effectively promote child safety seat and seat belt use and help reduce injuries (3).

All children aged 0--12 years should ride in the back seat, the safest part of the vehicle in the event of a crash. Placing children aged <12 years in the back seat is associated with at least a 30% decrease in the risk for fatal injury in cars without front passenger side air bags. For vehicles with front passenger side air bags, placing children in the back seat reduces fatal injury risk by 46% (4). Infants in rear-facing child safety seats should never be placed in a seat with an air bag. Few states have laws requiring children to ride in the back seat.

Information about Child Passenger Safety Week activities and child passenger safety is available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Communications and Outreach, 400 Seventh St., SW, NTS-21, Washington, DC, 20590; fax (202) 493-2062,; and from CDC at


  1. US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatality analysis reporting system 2000. Available at Accessed December 2001.
  2. CDC. Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program operated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Atlanta, Georgia: CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2001.
  3. Zaza S, Sleet DA, Thompson RS, et al. Reviews of evidence regarding interventions to increase use of child safety seats. Am J Prev Med 2001;21:31--47.
  4. Braver ER, Whitfield R, Ferguson SA. Seating position and children's risk of dying in motor vehicle crashes. Injury Prev 1998;4:181--7.

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