Every day in America, too many children ride in car seats that have been installed incorrectly, or are the wrong car seats for their age and size. Other children ride while completely unbuckled.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 59 per cent of car seats are misused.

Too often, parents move their children to the front seat before they should, which increases the risk of injury and death. The safest place for all kids under 13 is in the back seats of cars. According to NHTSA, about 24 per cent of children four to seven who should be riding in booster seats are prematurely moved to seat belts, and nine percent are unbuckled altogether.

September 18 to 24 is Child Passenger Safety Week, an NHTSA sponsored campaign dedicated to helping parents and caregivers make sure their children ride as safely as possible, every trip, every time.

NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible up to the top height or weight allowed by their particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing-only “infant” car seat, he/she should travel in a rear-facing “convertible” or all-in-one car seat. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing size limits, the child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. After outgrowing the forward-facing car seats with harness, children should be placed in booster seats until they’re the right size to use seat belts safely.

Always remember to register your car seat and booster seat with the car seat manufacturer so you can be notified in the event of a recall. Parents and caregivers can view more information on car seat safety and locate a certified technician at www.safercar.gov/parents.

Key statistics:

  • Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children
  • Every 33 seconds, one child under the age of 13 is involved in a crash
  • In 2014, over one-third (34 per cent) of children under 13 killed in car crashes were not in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts
  • In 2014, among children under five, car seats saved an estimated 252 lives
  • An additional 37 children could have survived if car seat use was at 100 per cent
  • In passenger cars, child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 per cent for infants and by 54 per cent for toddlers
  • Most parents are confident they have correctly installed their child’s car seat, but in most cases (59 per cent) the seat has not been installed correctly

Child car seat recommendations (opens PDF)