Child Passenger Safety Statistics

Recent Statistics:

  • In 2004, there were 495 passenger vehicle occupant fatalities among children under 5 years of age. Of those 495 fatalities, an estimated 173 (35 %) were totally unrestrained.
  • Among children under 5 years old, an estimated 451 lives were saved in 2004 by child restraint use. Of these 451 lives saved, 413 were associated with the use of child safety seats and 38 with the use of adult belts.
  • Child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers, ages 1-4.

An awareness gap exists when it comes to child passenger safety:

  • While 96 percent of parents and caregivers believe their child safety seats are installed correctly1, research shows that seven out of 10 children are improperly restrained.
  • Using a booster seat is 60 percent safer for kids than being restrained by a seat belt alone.2 However, nearly 70 percent of drivers believe it is safe for children age eight or under to no longer be secured in a child safety seat or booster seat.3 Only 21 percent of children age four to eight are "at least on occasion" riding in a booster seat while traveling in a passenger vehicle.
  • Children of all ages are safest when properly restrained in the back seat. Yet, six out of 10 drivers of children age 12 or under believe it is safe for children age 12 or under to sit in the front seat in front of a passenger air bag.4 And, more than one in 10 children under 80 pounds are completely unrestrained when riding in vehicles.

What are the most common child safety seat installation mistakes?

  • Not using the right child safety seats for a child’s size and age;
  • Not placing the child safety seat in the correct direction;
  • Incorrect installation of the child safety seat in relation to the vehicle’s air bags;
  • Incorrect installation and tightness of the child safety seat to the vehicle seat;
  • Not securing or tightening the child safety seat’s harness and crotch straps;
  • Improper use of locking clips for certain vehicle safety belts;
  • Not making sure the vehicle’s seat belts fit properly across the child when using a booster seat; and  
  • Using a defective or broken child safety seat.

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