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Child Passenger Safety 101

Tips on How to Keep Your Child Passenger Safe

The Basics

  • There are two types of booster seats – a high-back booster and a low-back booster.

    - A high-back booster seat uses the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt and provides head and neck support for the child if the car does not have a built-in head restraint.

    - A low-back booster seat is for use in vehicles that have a built-in head restraint.  This type of booster seat is also used with the lap/shoulder belt to properly secure the child.

  • From birth to at least one year old and at least 20 pounds, children should be secured in the back seat in a rear-facing infant seat.

  • Children between the ages of one to about age four and 20-40 pounds should be secured in the back seat in a forward-facing toddler seat.

  • Kids between the ages of four and eight or 40-80 pounds – unless 4’9” – should be properly restrained in the back seat in belt-positioning booster seats.

  • The child seat manufacturer certifies that all child safety seats sold meet federal safety performance standards.  For a complete list of the safety seat models, please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website,

Where to Go to Check Your Child's Safety Seat:
Lifesaving Options

  • Statistics show that four out of five child safety seats are used incorrectly. No one seat is "best" for all children or all vehicles. Therefore the best child safety seat is the one that fits the child and the vehicle, and which will be used correctly on each trip.

  • A child safety seat inspection station is the most commonplace consumers go to get their child safety seats "checked." This means that trained technicians (who complete a standardized AAA-certified course) are on hand to inspect and correct the installation of child safety seats.

  • These technicians make sure that the seats being used have not been recalled due to a safety defect or been made unsafe because they were involved in a previous car crash.

  • Technicians also check to make sure that the child using the seat is the right age and weight for that seat.

  • Inspection stations are frequently located at local automobile dealerships, police stations, fire houses, hospitals, and many more places. To locate an inspection station in your area, please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website,

Inspection stations can be identified by calling 1-866-SEAT-CHECK or visiting

  • Another option is locating a few certified child passenger safety technicians in your area and enlisting their support. There are thousands of certified CPS technicians currently out there that are ready and able to assist! Parents can take their vehicle and child to the technician and often times they will come to you.

  • To find these individuals, please visit the NHTSA website and search by your state or zip code.

Statistics On Child Passenger Safety (CPS)

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading killer of children ages 4-14 annually.

  • There were 2,296 children under the age of four killed in car crashes in 2001, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  • Thanks in part to local dealership-supported child safety seat inspection activities, fatalities in 2001 dropped to the lowest level since record keeping began in 1975.

  • According to NHTSA, more than 40 percent of children under the age of eight who die or suffer incapacitating injuries in fatal car crashes are completely unrestrained.

  • Research shows that the majority of the 20 million at-risk children (generally kids between the ages of four and eight or around 40-80 pounds, unless 4'9") are not properly secured while riding in automobiles. Children that meet these requirements should be properly restrained in booster seats, as they have generally outgrown child safety seats, yet are too small for adult lap-shoulder belts alone.

  • Booster seats are designed to raise children up so that the safety belt fits correctly—the shoulder belt should cross the child's chest and rest snugly on the shoulder, and the lap belt should rest low across the pelvis or hip area.

(Source: NADA)