Keeping Children Safe in Motor Vehicles

Safety of children when they travel in a vehicle is paramount. Traffic collisions are the number one cause of death for children under 18 years old. Many of these deaths can easily be prevented by taking the necessary steps. Drivers can help their children and their families by taking the right steps.

The Problem

A study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that over 600,000 children aged between a few months to twelve years have ridden in cars without a booster seat, car seat, or seat belt at least once. The risk of infant fatalities is reduced by 70% when car seats are used properly. For toddlers, the risk of injury is reduced by 50%. The risk of injury to children aged four to eight years old is reduced with the use of booster seats by over 40 percent compared to only using a seat belt. A seat belt can reduce the risk of injury and death for older children by 50 percent. However, not all children are fastened correctly.

According to the CDC, many child safety systems are inappropriately used in cars. A recent study found that over 70% of 3,500 booster and car seats were incorrectly used, posing a huge risk to children. Unfortunately, many parents believe that their child is in the correct car seat and these mistakes provide the wrong support system for their children based on size and age.

The Importance of Age-Appropriate Child Safety Seats

Parents should use the correct booster seat, car seat or seat belt to match their child’s height, age and weight. This will reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries. Infants should use rear-facing car seats until they are at least 20 pounds and 12 months old. Experts recommend that the child be kept in this type of seat for as long as possible. The car seat should not be placed in front of active airbags and it should never be in the front seat. To avoid items falling into the airbag’s path and causing them to stop quickly, it is important to keep toys and other accessories away from the infant’s car seat. These items could cause injuries if they are too close to the baby.

Booster seats should be fitted properly for children aged four to eight years old. Booster seats can be used with a shoulder and lap belt. If a child is not tall enough or too heavy to wear a belt, a booster seat may be required. Adults and older children should use a seatbelt.

Seat belts can reduce the chance of being killed in a collision with a vehicle by approximately 50%. Safety is improved when you follow manufacturer instructions. Restraints and support devices that are specifically designed for children’s weight and height should also be used. Airbags are usually designed for older people, so children should not be placed in front of them as they may become injured.

To ensure that older car seats are not used more than six years, it is best to replace them. They may not be safe anymore. Parents should register their car seats to increase their knowledge about recalls.

Secured Objects

Drivers should know where the items are kept and what they are placed in their vehicle when a child is being moved from one place to another. To ensure that small and large objects are not a threat of becoming projectiles, drivers should secure them.


Most often when a driver does not use a seat belt, the passenger will not either. Around 40% of drivers not wearing a seatbelt do not have their children buckled in either.

Anyone transporting children are children who are responsible for making sure those children are safe and secure. In many states, violations of child safety laws are considered a misdemeanor. These offenses can result in a maximum of one-year imprisonment and a fine, depending on the state laws. These offenses can be upgraded to felonies if they are repeated. The punishment escalates when harsher terms are used.

Updated 12/2/2021