NHTSA Finds More Than a Third of Children Killed in Crashes Were Not in Car Seats or Wearing Seat Belts
WASHINGTON--Sept. 19, 2013: According to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than a third of children under age 13 who died in passenger vehicle crashes in 2011 were not in car seats or wearing seat belts. To help eliminate these deaths, and as part of Child Passenger Safety Week, NHTSA is highlighting the important safety benefits associated with the proper use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.
“Safety is our top priority, particularly when it comes to protecting our children – who are our most vulnerable passengers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Parents and caregivers can be the first line of defense by ensuring their children are correctly secured in the right seat for their size and age, and by buckling up themselves.”
Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death for children. In 2011, almost two children under the age of 13 were killed and 338 were injured every day while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups and vans. Of the children killed, the percentage of unrestrained fatalities, with no car seat or seat belt, varied by vehicle type, with greater percentages of unrestrained fatalities occurring in larger vehicles: SUVs (55 percent), pick-ups (43 percent), vans (40 percent), and cars (24 percent).
“Regardless of the size of the vehicle, the age of the child or the length of the trip, children should always be properly restrained in a car seat, booster or seat belt,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Car seats, when correctly installed and used, provide proven life-saving and injury-reducing benefits for child passengers.”
From 1975 through 2011, NHTSA estimates that approximately 10,000 lives were saved by child restraints for children under the age of 5 in passenger vehicles, with more than 260 lives saved in 2011 alone.
NHTSA offers parents and caregivers the following safety tips:
Determine if your child is in the right seat for his or her age and size; Read the instructions and labels that come with your child’s car seat and read the vehicle owner’s manual for important information on installing the seat in your particular vehicle; Go to your local car seat inspection station to have your seat checked by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician; Use the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) restraint system or seat belt to install your car seat and use the top tether to secure forward-facing car seats; Register your car seat and booster seat at SaferCar.gov so you will be informed if there is a safety recall on your model; and Always wear your seat belt to set a good example. Unbuckled drivers are more likely to have unrestrained children in the car.
Child Passenger Safety Week is September 15 through September 21, with the final day of the week (Sept. 21) recognized as National Seat Check Saturday. Throughout the week, at more than 600 events in 45 states across the country, certified child passenger safety technicians will inspect car seats and show parents and caregivers how to correctly install and use them. In most cases, this service is free of charge.
Parents and caregivers can visit SaferCar.gov/TheRightSeat to determine if your child is in the right seat for his or her age and size and to locate a car seat check event in your area.
Additional information on child passenger safety can be found in NHTSA’s latest issue of SAFETY 1N NUM3ERS, an online monthly newsletter on hot topics in auto safety – including problem identification, people at risk and recommended practices and solutions to mitigate injury and death on our nation’s roadways.