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Study: Almost Half of Parents Make
Major Mistakes Protecting Kids in Cars

Thirty-three percent of children in the survey were in the wrong restraint for their size and age.

Almost half of parents are making major mistakes when it comes to protecting their children in motor vehicles. In the largest interactive, observational survey of child restraint use in America, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign found that 33% of children ages 14 and under were riding in the wrong restraint type for their age and size. In addition, 14% of the children observed were riding completely unbuckled. Older children were more likely to be both unrestrained and in the wrong restraint.

The SAFE KIDS report, Child Passengers at Risk in America: A National Study of Restraint Use, is based on observations of 9,332 children traveling in 6,297 vehicles. Data were collected at 174 sites in 48 states and the District of Columbia between November 2001 and January 2002.

Key Findings:

Inappropriately Restrained Children:

33% (3,042) of children were in the wrong restraint for their size and age.
63% (1,626) of kids who should have been in belt-positioning booster seats (typically ages 4 to 8) were inappropriately restrained

Unrestrained Children:

14% (1,295) of children were riding completely unrestrained.
24% (284) of kids ages 10-14, and 20% of kids ages 5-9 were riding completely unrestrained

SAFE KIDS also found that driver safety belt use oftentimes dictates child restraint use. Nearly 40% (923) of children riding with unbelted drivers were completely unrestrained, compared to only 5% (355) of children riding with drivers in safety belts.

The serious consequences of children riding in the wrong restraint or without protection at all are well documented. Recent data from the Crash Injury Research & Engineering Network (CIREN) project indicate that inappropriately restrained children are nearly three and a half times more likely to suffer a severe injury in a crash than their inappropriately restrained peers. More than half (56%) of the children killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2000 were completely unrestrained.

"This research tells us that parents still aren't getting it-- they just don't realize that they're gambling with their child's life when leaving them unbuckled or in the wrong seat," said Heather Paul, PhD., executive director of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. "We need more powerful ways to persuade them-- more education, better laws and stronger enforcement of those car seat laws that are on the books."

For some extra tips to keep your kids safe visit,
Child Seat Safety

For more information on National Safe Kids Campaign, click here.