How to Keep Your Child Safe on the Road

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) released a new study showing that motor vehicle crash deaths among children age 12 and younger have decreased by 43 percent from 2002-2011. According to the research, the decrease is attributable to the increased use of age- and size-appropriate child restraints (car seats, booster seats and seat belts), which is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries in a crash. 


“No child should die in a motor vehicle crash because they were not properly buckled up and yet, sadly, it happens hundreds of times each year in the U.S.,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Many of these tragedies are preventable when parents use age-and size-appropriate child restraints every time their child rides in a motor vehicle.” 

Although the decrease in deaths is promising, the study also points out that more work needs to be done in preventing child deaths in automobile crashes. During the time of the study, 9,000 children died in crashes during, and almost half of all black (45 percent) and Hispanic (46 percent) children who died in crashes were not buckled up, compared to 26 percent of white children (2009-2010).

In order to keep your child safe in the car, the CDC has listed a number of guidelines to utilize age- and size- appropriate child restraints:

  • Use car seats, booster seats and seat belts in the back seat—on every trip, no matter how short.
  • Use a rear-facing car seat from birth up to age 2 - Buckle children in a rear-facing seat until age 2 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of that seat.
  • Use a forward-facing car seat from 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.
  • Use a booster seat from age 5 up until seat belt fits 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.
  • Teach them to use a seat belt once it fits properly without a booster seat - 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).
  • Always buckle children age 12 and under in the back seat.

In order to learn more about how you can keep your child safe on the road, and about the adoption of child passenger restraint laws, please see the CDC release CDC study shows that child passenger deaths have decreased 43 percent from 2002 - 2011

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