Child Passenger Safety Practices in the U.S.

The American Academy of Pediatrics stated that child passenger safety has dramatically improved over the years, but motor vehicle crashes still continue to be the leading cause of death of children four years and older.  Although car safety seats have reduced the car accident fatality rates for children, a new study conducted by the University of Michigan found that many parents place their children at risk of injuries or even death in a motor vehicle accident by incorrectly using car seats.

In Child Passenger Safety Practices in the U.S., researchers found that many parents continue to place their children in the wrong type of car seats for their age or even allow a young child to ride in the front seat of the car.  The researchers found that those parents who wear seat belts are more likely to be compliant in the use of car safety seats, whereas those parents who usually do not buckle up, are less likely to secure their child in a car safety seat.

The American Academy of Pediatrics provides four evidence-based recommendations for best practices in the choice of a child restraint system to optimize safety in passenger vehicles for children from birth through adolescence.

  1. Rear-facing car safety seats for most infants up to two years of age.
  2. Forward-facing car safety seats for most children through four years of age.
  3. Belt-positioning booster seats for most children through eight years of age; and
  4. Lap-and-shoulder seat belts for all who have outgrown booster seats.&#160
  5. Evidence-based recommendation is for all children younger than thirteen years to ride in the rear seats of vehicles.

One important point to note, according to the academy, is that every transition is associated with some decrease in protection; therefore, parents should delay the transitions for as long as possible.  The number one safety measure a parent can take to keep their child safe while driving is to make sure they are safely restrained in a proper car seat.