|A committed research effort in understanding and improving child occupant protection in motor vehicles has been ongoing at NHTSA for many years. A renewed emphasis on child safety is underway as data show that motor vehicle crashes are the primary cause of death for children 4 and older. Currently, NHTSA has been conducting research on the protection of children in side impact crashes. Much of that research has focussed on the protection offered by child restraint systems (CRS). Additional research efforts are underway investigating the injuries resulting from rear interior components and surfaces to determine whether there is a need to increase the protection of rear-seat occupants.
Since children 12-years-old and younger represent more than half of the rear seat occupant population, NHTSA has also begun conducting research on protecting large children in the rear seat that use booster seats and seat belts. NHTSA is looking more closely at rear seat geometries, seat belt fit and other aspects related to the rear seat environment as applicable to older children.