Car Seat Safety Facts: Car Seat Safety by the Numbers

Keeping their kids safe and healthy is a top priority for most parents. From before a child is even born, most parents do everything they can to ensure their children’s well-being. Unfortunately it’s impossible to protect our children from every hazard and possible bad outcome but there are things we can do to help ensure their safety and one of those things is to always properly restrain our children in the car.

Once educated and equipped with the proper seats, ensuring a child’s safety in the car becomes a simple routine. Yet a large number of children are not properly restrained in the car and the results can be devastating.

Here are a few car seat safety facts you may not know:Car Seat Safety Facts: A large number of children are not properly restrained in the car and the results can be devastating.

  1. Car crashes are the number one cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 and 19 [6]
  2. 15% of all car crash fatalities are children [3]
  3. 21% of children under the age of 1 and under 20 pounds do not ride in a rear-facing car seat [3]
  4. Approximately a third of all harnessed car seats are installed using the wrong belt path (using the rear-facing belt path for a forward-facing seat or the forward-facing belt path with a rear-facing seat) [4]
  5. Only 42% of forward-facing car seats are installed using the top tether strap [4] even though top tether use reduces head injuries in car crashes.
  6. Only half of all car seat chest clips are placed appropriately at the chest/armpit level [4]
  7. About two-thirds of all children in harnessed car seats do not have properly tightened straps [4] (see how to test using the “pinch” test)
  8. Only 60% of drivers read their car seat manuals and less than 15% have referenced their car manual for installation instructions [4]
  9. 16% of rear-facing infant seats and 12% of rear-facing convertible seats are installed at an improper recline [5]
  10. 85% of drivers are confident they are properly using their car seats  though almost half of all child restraints are used improperly including loose harness straps and improper installation [4]
  11. Car seat use reduces infant mortality in car crashes by 71% and 54% for children aged 1-4. [1]
  12. Booster seats reduce serious injury in children aged 4-8 by 45% compared to using a seatbelt alone. [1]
  13. One third of children who died in car crashes in 2011 were not restrained [2]
  14. Around 1 in 10 children using a booster rides with the seat belt on their abdomen or rib cage rather than properly across the hip or thighs [5]

See my full list of Car seat safety posts for more information on keeping your kids safe in the car.

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The above stats can be found at:

[1] CDC: Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety

[2] CDC: Child Passenger Safety

[3] AAP: Technical Report–Child Passenger Safety

[4] NHTSA: Results of the National Child Restraint Use Special Study

[5] NHTSA: National Child Restraint Use Special Study

[6] Safe Kids: Motor Vehicle Safety Fact Sheet 2016


  1. Jennifer April 3, 2014 Reply
    • Melissa April 4, 2014 Reply
  2. ERFmama February 1, 2017 Reply
    • Melissa February 14, 2017 Reply

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