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Child Passenger Safety Week, being held September 23-29, 2018, is a great time to reinforce the importance of vehicle safety to your children. As a parent or caregiver, one of your top priorities will always include keeping them safe. As they grow, the way you talk to them about seat belt safety will change, but the message will always stay the same: The Right Seat saves lives.

Parenting children transitioning to their teenage years brings unique challenges, and tragically, tweens ages 8-14 are the age group most at risk for injury or death in the event of a crash. Tweens can push boundaries, but standing strong and ensuring they buckle up can save their life. You aren't always at their side anymore, but the influence you've had on them is. The habits that children form as tweens and teenagers will follow them through their lives, and car seat and seat belt safety are crucial for their well-being.

On National Seat Check Saturday, September 29, certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians across the country will be available at car seat check events to offer advice and instruction to parents and caregivers, which includes providing information to consumers about transitioning tweens from a booster seat to a seat belt if they are big enough. Technicians can also help educate consumers about choosing the right seat for their child, the importance of registering that car seat or booster seat with its manufacturer, riding in the back seat where it is safest for children, and what to expect if the seat is subject to a safety recall.


Lives lost and injuries

  • Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children.
  • Every 33 seconds in 2016, 1 child under the age of 13 was involved in a crash.
  • From 2012 to 2016, there were 3,268 children under 13 killed in car crashes. These numbers have been increasing steadily since 2014.
  • On average, nearly 2 children under 13 were killed every day in 2016 while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans.
  • From 2012 to 2016, there were 1,132 "tweens" (8 to 14 years old) killed in passenger vehicles.
  • In 2016, the 8-12 age group had the highest number of fatalities (262, or 36%) among children, which is an 11-percent increase from 2015. Of those who were killed, almost 50 percent were unbuckled.
  • In 2016, over one-third (35%) of children under 13 killed in car crashes were not restrained in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts.
  • Statistically, more crashes occur during "school hours" (during the day, Monday through Friday).

Additional Tween Statistics

  • From 2012 to 2016, there were 1,692 children 8 to 14 years old killed in passenger vehicles.
  • Fatalities of 8- to 14-year-olds increased 4 percent in 2016 from 2015 and increased 12 percent from 2012 to 2016.
  • In 2016, over half of 8- to 14-year-olds killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt.
  • Of the 8- to 14-year-olds killed in car crashes in 2016, 26 percent were sitting in the front seat, and 45 percent of those children were unbuckled.

Booster seats and seat belts work best when used correctly

  • In 2016, over half of 8 and 9-year-old passenger vehicle occupants (56% and 55%) killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt.
  • According to NHTSA data, in 2015, about 25.8 percent of children 4 to 7 were prematurely moved to seat belts, when they should have been riding in booster seats.

Child passenger safety laws

  • For the past 30 years, all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories have had laws requiring children to be buckled up while riding in cars.
  • States now require children to ride in appropriate car seats or booster seats until as old as age 9.


  • For children riding in booster seats, remember to read and carefully follow the installation instructions as well as the vehicle owner's manual. Failure to do this can lead to incorrect installation, exposing a child passenger to the risk of injury or death in a crash.
  • All children under 13 should always ride in the back seat.

For the purpose of this document, the following terms and definitions are used:

  • "Children killed/injured in car crashes" are defined as a passenger car, van, pickup, and SUV passengers under 13 years old killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and
  • "Tweens killed in car crashes" are defined as a passenger car, van, pickup, and SUV passengers 8 to 14 years old killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
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