Tougher child restraint laws reduce injury risk: report

October 26, 2011

Arlington, VA – Booster seat laws that cover 7- and 8-year-olds reduce crash injuries, increase restraint use and increase the number of children placed in the backseat, finds a report (.pdf file) released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Researchers examined data from five states with stricter laws governing child restraints and booster seats and found that the stricter laws reduced child injury of any severity by 5 percent and reduced fatal and incapacitating injuries by 17 percent. Children were 3 times more likely to be properly restrained following passage of the stricter laws, according to the study.

Researchers warn that children who wear improperly fitted safety belts are at risk for “seat belt syndrome,” which can lead to hip and abdominal contusions, pelvic fractures, cervical and lumbar spine injuries, and internal organ injuries.

Although all 50 states have child car seat restraint laws, they do not always match up with industry recommendations. In 2009, only 55 percent of 4- to 7-year-olds were appropriately restrained, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey.