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September 17, 2014

When It Is Safe For A Child To Use A Seatbelt? 9 Out Of 10 Are Doing It Wrong!

National_Child_Passenger_Safety_Week-NHTSA_photoAs part of National Child Passenger Safety Week, Safe Kids Worldwide has released a new study that finds an alarming number of parents are allowing kids to use a seat belt alone before they are big enough. 

The study’s shocking results reveal nine out of ten parents move their child from booster seat to seat belt before their child is big enough to be safety protected by the belts.

The report, “Buckle Up: Booster Seats,” funded in part by a $2 million grant from the General Motors Foundation, is based on a national online survey of 1,000 parents of children ages 4 to 10. The study found seven in ten parents don’t know that a child should be at least 57-inches tall (4-feet 9-inches)  to ride in a car without a booster seat.

National_Child_Passenger_Safety_Week-NHTSA_photo_111108“Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts are engineered to offer more protection than ever,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “But we found there’s a need to remind parents, and anyone who drives a child, about the importance of using a booster seat until a seat belt alone fits safely. Here’s an easy tip: A child needs to be at least 57-inces tall and between 80 and 100 pounds to ride with just a seat belt.”

Motor vehicle crashes are the second-leading cause of death for children 4 to 10 years old. In 2012, 340 children this age died in motor vehicle crashes. A third of these children were riding without a restraint that could have potentially saved their lives.  Many children of this age should be riding in booster seats which have been shown to reduce the risk of serious injury by 45 percent compared to seat belts alone.

Booster seats protect children who are too big for a car seat but too small for a seat belt. Seat belts don’t fit children properly until they are at least 57-inches tall (4-feet 9-inches)  tall and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds.

National_Child_Passenger_Safety_Week-NHTSA_photo_272notsafeThe report also revealed that carpooling can be a particularly risky time for small passengers. One in five parents whose children carpool say they “bend the rules” when driving, letting children ride without seat belts and without the car seat or booster seat they would normally use.  And 61 percent of parents say they notice other carpool drivers bending the rules. Safe Kids research also shows that one in four parents report they don’t buckle up their children on every ride. 

“We’re committed to our partnership with Safe Kids and the work we do to improve child passenger safety,” said Jeffrey Boyer, General Motors Vice President for Safety and GM Foundation Board Member. “All who share a commitment to protecting passengers should take pride in the progress that’s been achieved. However, this report is an important reminder that there’s more we can do to ensure that children are buckled up correct on every ride, every time.”

Buckle up every ride, every time, in the right seat.

Parents, it is NEVER okay to drive with an unbuckled child!

Remember: A child needs to be at least 57-inches tall (4-feet 9-inches) and weigh 80 to 100 pounds to ride with just a seat belt.

Check that a car seat is installed properly here.

Learn more about car seat safety at




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