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Car Crashes Are the No. 1 Safety Issue for Children; AAA Provides the Do's and Don'ts for Child Seats

National Child Passenger Safety Week is September 19 – 25

AAA B-ROLL and Sound Bites for Media

OMAHA, Neb. (Sept. 20, 2021) – Car crashes are the leading safety issue for children. According to the latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 183,000 children were injured in car crashes in 2018. That's an average of more than 500 injuries per day.

"Many of these injuries and deaths are preventable if the children are properly restrained in the vehicle," said Nick Faustman, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. "Children are far more susceptible to injuries in crashes than adults, because their little bodies have not fully developed. The best way to provide optimal safety is to ensure your child is properly fastened in the right car seat, every ride."

New data from AAA and the National Safety Council reveals:

  • 52% of car seats inspected by Child Passenger Safety technicians are improperly installed and used.
  • 73% of forward facing car seats are incorrectly installed.
  • 90% of children using adult lap-and-shoulder safety belts under the age of 10 should still be in a car or booster seat.

"Even parents with the best intentions may unknowingly be endangering their children by putting them in the wrong seat or not securing them properly," said Faustman. "Since car seat recommendations can vary, AAA urges parents to take a moment to ensure their child is setup for a safe ride."

AAA's Child Passenger Do's and Don'ts


  • Use the right car seat. Types of seats vary based on age, weight and height – and recommendations should be followed according to car seat manufacturer instructions.
  • Install your car seat correctly. It should have minimal side-to-side movement.
  • Place car seats in the middle of the vehicle if possible, away from impact zones and windows.
  • Get your car seat inspected.
  • Fasten the safety harness properly. The harness should be clipped over the breast bone, with the belt fitting snugly over the lap. Improper placement of the belt or clip could itself cause injury to your child in a crash.


  • Don't move the car before everyone is seated safe and secure, including adults.
  • Don't let children sit in the front seat until they are at least 13 years old.
  • Don't put rear-facing car seats in the front seat, near active airbags.
  • Don't move a child out of their height/weight appropriate seat before they're ready - according to car seat manufacturer instructions.
  • Don't move your child into a standard adult seatbelt until they're big enough. Seat belts simply aren't designed to fit kids – and can cause injury or death in the event of a crash if they don't fit properly. A seat belt will properly fit a child when they reach 4'9" tall, typically between the ages of 8 and 12. Until then, they should remain in a booster seat.
  • Read more here.

Caregivers Increasingly Overlook Safety Standards as their Child Grows

According to new data from the National Digital Car Seat Check Form, more than half of all car seats brought in for inspection to child passenger safety technicians are improperly installed and used. Yet, only 1 in 5 parents and caregivers seek expert help installing a car seat or securing a child in a car seat, according to a NDCF consumer survey.

Unfortunately, parents and caregivers are even less likely to seek car seat inspections as children grow into forward-facing and booster car seats. Child passenger safety technicians inspect about four times the amount of rear-facing car seats than they do forward-facing car seats, and 73 percent of forward-facing seats are not correctly installed.

Don't Change Seats Too Early

Unfortunately, children are often transitioned out of the appropriate car seats before it is safe to do so.

More than a quarter of children are moved from forward-facing car seats to booster seats too soon, and more than 90 percent of children using lap-and-shoulder seat belts under the age of 10 should still be in a car seat or booster seat.

"Our goal is to provide information and tools that can help improve child passenger safety," said Faustman. "We urge parents and caregivers to educate themselves and look for free resources, such as a virtual or in-person car seat inspection in their area."


Boost Your Child Passenger Safety Knowledge and Skills
Car Seat Basics is a free online course that helps participants understand the four stages of child passenger safety, including rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, booster seats, and seat belts. Participants can complete the full training or select a module on a specific stage of child passenger safety. The course was developed through NSC's work with NHTSA.

In partnership with AAA Mountain West Group (MWG) and the National Safety Council, Westat researchers examined data submitted to the National Digital Car Seat Check Form (NDCF), a national database of detailed information on car seat inspections performed by certified child passenger safety technicians (CPSTs). The final dataset used for analysis represents all 50 states and includes 41,237 car seat inspections performed between July 1, 2018, and June 1, 2021. In addition, MWG and the NSC commissioned Ipsos, the world's largest insights and analytics company, to collect information on the general awareness and opinions of U.S. adults about child passenger safety. Ipsos used KnowledgePanel to survey 1,500 total respondents, with an oversample of 500 parents with children aged 17 or younger living in the home between July 30, 2021, and Aug. 2, 2021. Responses were received from 805 parents, including 509 parents with children younger than ten years of age.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is America's leading nonprofit safety advocate – and has been for over 100 years. As a mission-based organization, we work to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing our efforts on the workplace, roadway and impairment. We create a culture of safety to not only keep people safer at work, but also beyond the workplace so they can live their fullest lives.

About AAA - The Auto Club Group

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 62 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA's mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.