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Saving Lives with Car Seats and Seat Belts


Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death in children ages 1-18. One in 3 children who die in a motor vehicle collision are unrestrained.


Researchers have studied the behaviors of driv- ers and passengers, and used crash test dummy analyses to better characterize the contributory elements of motor vehicle fatalities. This testing has shown how the bodies of chil- dren can sustain many kinds of fatal injuries, such as being thrown from the vehicle, if not properly restrained.

This injury prevention research has driven policy change across the country, including required use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts for children and several national public awareness campaigns, such as Click It or Ticket, to encourage compliance with the law.


In children younger than 1 year, using car seats decreases mortality by 71%. When compared to only using a seatbelt, car seats reduce the risk of injury by 54% in children 1-4 years old, and in children 4-8 years old, booster seats reduce the risk by 45%.

In older children and adults, the use of seat belts decreases the risk for death and serious injury by about 50%.