Why Car Seats Matter

CSN staff

Is my child in the right car seat? Is it installed correctly? These are questions that many parents struggle to answer. This is also the theme of this year’s Child Passenger Safety Week, which takes place September 14-20th, 2014.

Child passenger safety is a critical issue. Motor vehicle-related injuries are a leading cause of death for children. Every day in the U.S., three children die in car crashes and 469 children are injured. Fortunately, child passenger fatalities have decreased 46% since 2002.

In 2011, 274 toddler and infant passengers died. Of these, one in three was totally unrestrained. But just using safety restraints is not enough; using age-appropriate safety restraints properly is essential. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 73 percent of child restraints are used incorrectly. This is especially true for infant seats, of which 84 percent are used incorrectly.

Child safety seats can reduce fatalities

The good news is that these deaths are preventable. In 2011, 263 toddler and infant passengers were saved by safety restraints. If every child was in a child safety seat, an additional 51 lives could have been saved. Child safety seats can reduce fatalities by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers when used correctly. Belt-positioning booster seats lower the risk of injury to children aged 4-8 years by 45 percent compared with the use of seat belts alone.

So how do you know if you are using the right car seat correctly? September 20th is National Seat Check Saturday. NHTSA’s Parents Central website can help you find the right place to get your car seats inspected with their Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator.

Precious Cargo Infographic

Here are recent child passenger safety resources from CSN:


Resource Guide

Pinterest Board

Here are some additional resources:

Car Seats from Parent Central

Car Seat Recommendations: Choosing the Right Seat Infographic from NHTSA

Child Passenger Safety Week Marketing Materials from Traffic Safety Marketing

Child Passenger Safety Facts and Tips from Safe Kids Worldwide

CDC Feature Story on Child Passenger Safety

Child Passenger Safety CDC Vital Signs



Arbogast, K. B., Jermakian, J. S., Kallan, M. J., & Durbin, D. R. (2009). Effectiveness of belt positioning booster seats: an updated assessment. Pediatrics124, 1281–1286.

Child Car Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2013). Additional Statistics - Child Passenger Safety Week 2013.

Children’s Safety Network (CSN). (2013)United States 2013 Fact Sheet.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2004)Misuse of Child Restraints.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2008)FACTS: Children, Youth, Young Adults.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2010). Reducing Nonuse of Restraints by Children Ages 5 to 7.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (2013)2011 Children Traffic Safety Fact Sheet.

Child Safety Topics
Child Passenger Safety