1998 SURVEY RESULTS

CHAPTER 4

REASONS FOR NON-USE OF CAR SEATS

 

The survey asked a series of questions to identify reasons why children under age 6 were not riding in car seats. Respondents were selected from the parent/caregiver subgroup defined on page 28. If respondents said that they used a car seat with the designated child, but less than all the time, then the survey termed them “part time users.” This includes cases where the respondent said that the car seat was used all the time, but admitted occasions of non-use on a follow-up question. The first part of this Chapter focuses exclusively on findings concerning part time car seat users. Readers are cautioned that these results are based on a small number of cases. This is because people will generally claim that the car seat is used “all the time” if the child still uses this type of restraint at all.

The second part of this Chapter examines reasons for non-use of car seats by children under the age of 6 who reportedly do not use car seats at all. Besides reasons for non-use among these “non-users,” the Chapter explores their seat belt use, their usual seating location, and whether the child had used a car seat at an earlier age.

 

Part Time Car Seat Users

Questionnaire testing plus input from experts had identified a number of likely reasons for non-use of car seats. The interviewers read each of these reasons to respondents, asking whether or not it was a factor in the child not using a car seat. The interviewers then gave the respondents the opportunity to volunteer “other” reasons. The reasons most frequently mentioned for non-use of car seats among part time users were that the child did not like the seat (31%), the seat was not available (30%), and the child was only going to be in the car a short time (29%).

Figure 52  

Figure 52. Reasons Child Does Not Ride In Car Seat: Part Time Users

Qx: Please answer yes or no to each of the following statements. When my (AGE) doesn't ride in a child car seat, it is sometimes because. . . . .
Base: Child uses a car seat, but not all of the time.
Unweighted N=115

 

The respondents were asked where the child usually sits when not in the car seat: on someone's lap, by him/herself in the front seat, or in the back seat. Slightly more than half (54%) answered that the child usually sat in the back. However, about one-in-six (17%) said the child sat on someone's lap while approximately the same percentage (18%) either replied that they did not know or else refused to respond.

Figure 53  

Figure 53. Where Child Rides When Not In Car Seat

Qx: When the (AGE) doesn't ride in the child car seat when riding with you, does he/she usually sit on someone's lap, sit by him/herself in the front seat, or sit in the back seat?
Base: Child uses a car seat, but not all of the time.
Unweighted N=115

 

Most children who were part time car seat users wore a seat belt when they were not in their car seat. Sixty-nine percent reportedly used the seat belt all of the time when not in the car seat, and 11% used it most of the time.

There were a small number of cases where the respondent said that the child usually sat in someone's lap when not riding in a car seat, but also stated that the child used a seat belt when not in a car seat. The interviewers asked these persons if the child was buckled in a seat belt when riding in someone's lap. In six cases the response was affirmative.

Figure 54  

Figure 54. Frequency Of Seat Belt Use When Child Is Not In Car Seat

Qx: When the (AGE) doesn't ride in the child car seat when riding with you, how often is he/she buckled in a seat belt?
Base: Child uses a car seat, but not all of the time.
Unweighted N=115

 

Children who always or most of the time wore a seat belt when not using a car seat were often too small for the seat belt to fit properly. Most (61%) weighed less than 40 pounds and almost one-in-five (18%) weighed less than 30 pounds.

Figure 55  

Figure 55. Weight Of Children Who Always Or Most Of The Time Use Seat Belts When Not In Their Car Seat

Qx: How much does (he/she) weigh?
Qx: When the (AGE) doesn't ride in the child car seat when riding with you, how often is he/she buckled in a seat belt?
Base: Child is a part time car seat user who uses a seat belt all or most of the time when not riding in the car seat.
Unweighted N=89

 

Never Users of Car Seats

The children who never used car seats were mostly larger children. About three-fourths (76%) were 40 pounds or heavier. Most of the remaining children (20%) were 30 to 39 pounds.

Figure 56  

Figure 56. Weight Of Children Who Never Use Car Seats

Qx: How much does (he/she) weigh?
Qx: When you are driving and (AGE) rides in the vehicle with you, how often does (he/she) ride in a child car seat? Child car seats include infant seats, toddler seats, and booster seats. Would you say (he/she) rides in a child car seat. . . . .
Base: Child under age 6 never uses a car seat.
Unweighted N=162

 

When asked the reason why the child never uses a car seat, the respondents usually answered that it was because the child was too big (84%) and was using a seat belt (94%). Other reasons given for not using a car seat included the child did not have one (25%), the child did not like it (21%), and the child won't stay in it (15%).

If the respondent said that the child did not have a car seat, the interviewer asked if there was a particular reason why. Most (60%) answered “no” while 5% said they did not know. Those who gave a reason most frequently indicated that it was because the child was too old and had outgrown the seat.

Figure 57  

Figure 57. Reasons Child Never Rides In Car Seat

Qx: Please answer yes or no to each of the following statements to indicate if this is a reason why the (AGE) does not ride in a child car seat. My (AGE) doesn't ride in a child car seat because. . . .
Base: Child under 6 never uses a car seat.
Unweighted N=162

 

The vast majority of children who never use car seats reportedly wear a seat belt all (92%) or most of the time (5%) when riding in motor vehicles.

Figure 58  

Figure 58. Frequency Child Uses Seat Belt: Children Who Never Use Car Seats

Qx: How often does he/she use a seat belt?
Base: Child under 6 never uses a car seat.
Unweighted N=162

 

The majority (71%) of children under age 6 who never use car seats tended to sit in the back seat. However, more than one-in-five (22%) usually sat in the front seat when the respondent was driving. Another 6% sat about equally between the front and the back.

Figure 59  

Figure 59. Where Child Usually Sits In Vehicle: Children Who Never Use Car Seats

Qx: Where does (AGE) usually sit in the vehicle when you are driving - - the front seat or the back seat?
Base: Child under 6 never uses a car seat.
Unweighted N=162

 

Children under age 6 who currently do not ride in car seats typically had used them at an earlier age. The overwhelming majority of these children (94%) reportedly rode in car seats during the first year of life, with virtually all of them (98%) using the car seat “all the time” during infancy according to the respondents. As indicated on page 68, the primary reasons why the children presently did not ride in a car seat were that they were considered too big and were using seat belts.

Figure 60  

Figure 60. Child Ever Rode In Car Seat During First Year Of Life: Children Who Never Use Car Seats

Qx: Did the (AGE) ever ride in a child car seat during the first year of life?
Qx: How often did he/she use the child car seat during that first year? Would you say all of the time, most of the time, some of the time, or rarely?
Base: Child under 6 never uses a car seat
Unweighted N's listed above.

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