Motor Vehicle Crashes, Medical Outcomes, and Hospital Charges Among Children Aged 1–12 Years — Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System, 11 States, 2005–2008

A CDC surveillance summary highlights that proper car seat, booster seat, and seat belt use among children prevents injuries, decreases deaths, and reduces hospital charges. It also confirmed that parents often transition children to the next, less protective, stage of child passenger restraint too soon. With every transition to the next stage of restraint (e.g., rear-facing seat to forward-facing seat, forward-facing seat to booster seat, and from booster seat to seat belt), children are less protected in a crash and the cost of injury increases.
infographic: Use proper restraints on every trip! For kids aged 4-7 being buckled in a car seat or booster seat reduced the risk of neck, back, or abdominal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and hospitalization after a crash compared with seat belt use alone.

infographic: At the time of the crash: Among children aged 1-3 about: 80% used a car seat or booster, 18% used a seat belt, 2% were unrestrained. Among children aged 4-7 about: 62% used a seat belt, 35% used a car seat or booster seat, 3% were unrestrained. Among children aged 8-12 about: 96% used a seat belt, 3% were unrestrained.

infographic: child restraints. child restraint use is associated with driver restraint use: about 41% of children riding with unrestrained drivers were also unrestrained compared with 2% of children riding with restrained drivers.

infographic: Average hospital charges for children aged 4-7 who were in a crash: $596 not buckled in the back seat; $823 not buckled in the front seat; $370 buckled in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat; $413 buckled with a seat belt only in the back seat.

infographic: Age- and size-appropriate restraint use in the back seat declined with child's age: 1 year 96%; 5 years 95%; 7 years 95%; 8 years 77%; 10 years 68%; 12 years 55%.

infographic: unrestrained children: Unrestrained children in a crash had approximately 7 times the percentage of traumatic brain injury compared with children buckled in age- and size-appropriate restraints.

Below is a brief selection of recent CDC publications on child passenger safety.

CDC Vital Signs. 1 in 2 Almost half of all black (45%) and Hispanic (46%) children who died in crashes were not buckled up (2009-2010).

Child Passenger Safety

CDC Vital Signs links science, policy, and communications with the intent of communicating a call-to-action for the public. CDC Vital Signs provides the most recent, comprehensive data on key indicators of important health topics

  • Zonfrillo, MR, Sauber-Schatz, EK, Hoffman, BD, Durbin, DR. Pediatricians’ Self-Reported Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices about Child Passenger Safety. Journal of Pediatrics 2014; 165: 1040-1045. 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.07.041
  • Quinlan K, Shults RA, Rudd RA. Child passenger deaths involving alcohol-impaired drivers: national and state patterns. Pediatrics 2014; 133: 966-972.