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Child Passenger Safety Program

Reduce Their Risk

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. In 2020, 607 child passengers* ages 12 and younger were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and more than 63,000 were injured. Of the children who were killed in a crash, 38%† were not buckled up. Parents and caregivers can make a lifesaving difference by ensuring that their children are properly buckled on every trip.

Data show:

  • Car seat use reduces the risk for injury in crashes by 71–82% for children, compared with seat belt use alone.

  • Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children ages 4–8, compared with seat belt use alone.

  • Seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by about half for older children and adults.

Buckle Up: Every Age, Every Trip

Make sure children ages 12 and younger are always properly buckled in the back seat in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt—whichever is appropriate for their age, weight, and height.

"The best way to protect children in the car is to put them in the right seat at the right time - and use it in the right way!" 

  • Buckle children in the middle of the back seat, when possible (using a lap and shoulder belt), because it is typically the safest position in the vehicle.

  • Air bags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear- facing car seat in front of an air bag.

  • Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every trip.

  • Set a good example and help protect everyone in the car by always using a seat belt. 

  • Use a rear facing car seat from birth until age 2-4.

  • Infants and toddlers should be buckled in a rear facing car seat with a harness, in the back seat, until they reach the maximum weight or height limit of their car seat. This offers the best possible protection.


  • Check the car seat manual and labels on the car seat for weight and height limits.

  • Never place a rear- facing car seat in the front seat. Front passenger air bags can injure or kill young children in a crash. 

  • When the seat belt fits properly without a booster seat, use a seat belt on every trip.

  • Children no longer need to use a booster seat when the seat belts fits them properly. A seat belt​ fits properly when the lap belt is across the upper thighs( not the stomach) and the shoulder belt is across the center of the shoulder and chest (not across the neck or face, and not off the shoulder). 

  • Proper seat belt fits usually occurs when children are between 9 and 12 years. 

  • Seat belt fit can vary by vehicle, so check seat belt fit in all vehicles where the child will ride to make sure the child no longer needs to use a booster seat. Sometimes a child might need a booster seat in one vehicle but not in a different vehicle. 

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