Child Safety

Protect Our Future: Use Child Safety Seats on Every Ride.

The Facts

  • Among children aged 0– 12, American Indian and Alaska Native children have the highest traffic death rate of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States.1
  • More than half of car seats and booster seats are not used correctly. If the seat isn’t installed the right way, or you’re using the wrong type of seat for your child’s age, height, or weight, your child is not as safe as he or she could be.2
  • Using age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts significantly reduce the risk of injury and death among children in a crash.

Help Keep Yourself and Your Loved Ones Safe

You can help keep yourself and your loved ones safe by:

  • Using a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt on every trip, no matter how short.
  • Finding the right car seat or booster seat for your child’s age, height, and weight. See the chart below for tips.
  • Getting help installing a car or booster seat from a certified child passenger safety technician.
  • Properly buckling children aged 12 and under in the back seat. The back seat is safest for children.
  • Never placing a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag. Airbags can injure or kill small children riding in the front seat.
  • Not using traditional baby carriers (such as cradleboards) in place of a car seat. Traditional carriers do not keep children safe in cars or trucks.
  • Always wearing a seat belt when pregnant. Be sure to wear the lap belt below your belly. Place the shoulder belt across your chest—never behind the back, under the arm, or across the stomach.3

This graphic explains when to use a car seat, booster seat or seat belt. REAR-FACING CAR SEAT: Birth up to Age 2* Buckle children in a rear-facing seat until age 2 of when they reach the upper weight or height limit of that seat. FORWARD-FACING CAR SEAT: 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: Age 5 up until seat belts fit 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 seat belts fit properly without a seat belt. 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). Keep children ages 12 and under in the back seat. Never place a car seat in front of an active air bag. *Recommended age ranges for each seat type vary to account for differences in child growth and height/weight limits of car seats and booster seats. Use the car seat or booster seat owner’s manual to check installation and the seat height/weight limits, and proper seat use. Child safety seat recommendations: American Academy of Pediatrics. Graphic design: adapted from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Do you need help choosing or installing your car seat? Find a child passenger safety technician at for assistance.


  1. CDC. Web-based injury statistics query and reporting system. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2015. Available at Accessed March 13, 2015.
  2. Lapidus J, Lutz T, Ebel B, Bigback K, Smith N. Native children always ride safe (Native CARS): Aggregate report. Portland, OR: Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, December 2009.
  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Seatbelts and pregnancy brochure, 2002. Available at Seat-Belt-Safety.htmExternal. Accessed May 27, 2015.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the Indian Health Service Injury Prevention Program work in partnership with American Indian/Alaska Native communities to implement proven programs.

CDC Vital Signs: Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths. In 2013, the US crash death rate was more than twice the average of other high-income countries.