NHTSA 11-10
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Contact: Ellen Martin
Telephone: 202-366-9550

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today unveiled new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research showing that while fewer children died in roadway crashes in 2009, many children are still not using an appropriate child restraint or booster seat. Secretary LaHood announced the findings today as part of Child Passenger Safety Week.

NHTSA’s 2009 child fatality data found that, last year, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for young people ages 3 to 14. In 2009, an average of four children age 14 and younger were killed and 490 were injured every day.

“Make no mistake about it: child safety seats save lives,” said Secretary LaHood. “Children who graduate too soon from their safety seats are at risk of serious injury. Parents and caregivers should ensure that safety seats are installed correctly and should always use them. Their children depend on it.”

During Child Passenger Safety Week, September 19 to 25, parents and caregivers are encouraged to have their child safety seats checked at one of the thousands of free safety seat inspection stations set up across the country. The week-long effort culminates in National Seat Check Saturday on September 25, during which English- and Spanish-speaking child passenger safety technicians will be available to answer questions and provide help with child safety seat installation.

“We’re urging everyone to get their children’s safety seats inspected to make sure their kids are properly protected on every trip, every time. When it comes to child passenger safety, there is absolutely no room for error,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

After children outgrow their forward-facing seats, usually around age 4 and 40 pounds, they should ride in booster seats until the seat belts in the vehicle fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest, usually at age 8 or when a child is 4’9” tall.

A new NHTSA survey on booster seat use found that just 41 percent of 4- to 7-year-old children ride in booster seats, virtually unchanged from the prior year.

Restraint use for children age 1 to 3 years increased from 92 percent in 2008 to 96 percent in 2009, while restraint use for all children under age 13 remained unchanged at 89 percent.

Other NHTSA research on the effects of early graduation from child safety seats to booster seats for children ages 3 to 4 found a significantly lower injury risk for the children in safety seats than for those in booster seats. Staying in a booster seat rather than an early graduation to adult belts for child passengers age 4 to 8 likewise resulted in significantly fewer injuries.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws requiring the use of safety seats for young children traveling in automobiles. Also, 47 states have laws requiring booster seat use.

To view NHTSA’s new national survey, click here.

To view the new 2009 children fatality statistics, click here.

To find a child safety seat inspection site near you, click here.