Why it is important to wear a safety restraint while riding in a vehicle?

  • Car crashes are the #1 cause of death for children.
  • Seat belts and other restraints prevent ejection from the vehicle. You are 4 times more likely to be killed if you are thrown from the vehicle during a crash.
  • Wearing a safety restraint cuts the risk of injury during a collision by half.
  • Wearing a safety restraint is the single most important thing a person can do to keep themselves safe while riding in a vehicle.

If unrestrained, you are more likely to be thrown from the vehicle. Why?

  • Newton’s Law of Motion states that an object in motion keeps moving in the direction and speed it was traveling in unless it is stopped by something.
    • In the case of a vehicle, this could mean the brakes, another vehicle, or a tree/pole.
    • In the case of the occupants in that vehicle, this could mean the windshield, seat belt, or anything else inside or outside the vehicle. If the vehicle is traveling at 35 mph, occupants will continue traveling at 35 mph once the vehicle crashes, unless they are restrained and thus, stop with the vehicle.

What are the three collisions during a car crash?

  • Vehicle collision: Vehicle begins to stop when it collides with another vehicle, object, etc.
  • Human collision: Occupants in the vehicle continue to move forward in the same speed until they collide with something inside the vehicle.
  • Internal collision: The occupant’s internal organs continue to move forward in the same speed until they collide with other organs, bones, etc.

How strong are crash forces?

  • VERY powerful due to the abrupt changes in momentum and velocity in fractions of a second.
    • For example, if a 90 pound child is properly restrained with a seat belt in a vehicle that crashed when going 30 mph, the restraining force provided by the seat belt in the crash is 2,700 pounds. This is roughly the weight of a small car!!!

What kind of restraint should tweens use?

  • Use booster seats until the child is 4 feet 9 inches tall and passes the safety belt fit test (see below).┬áIt can take up to the age of 12 for a child to reach this height and weight; use lap/shoulder safety belts once children outgrow booster seats.

When does a safety belt fit properly?

  • Child can sit all the way back in the vehicle seat.
  • With knees bent comfortably at the edge of the seat.
  • The shoulder belt is crossing the middle of the chest and resting at the shoulder (not the neck).
  • The lap belt fits low and snug on the hips bones, touching the upper thighs (not the stomach).
  • And the child can stay seated like this for the whole trip.

Why is rear seating recommended?

  • Most crashes are frontal collisions.
  • Airbags are dangerous for children.
  • Rear seating offers independent and additive safety benefits.

Other important information you should know:

  • Make sure the shoulder belt is not tucked under the arm or behind the back. This leaves the upper body unprotected, putting the child at risk of severe injury in a crash.
  • Lap and shoulder belts are necessary for optimal protection. If you have only lap belts in your car, there are some alternatives, including having shoulder belts installed in your vehicle or using a travel vest (see a list of some available vests).

For more information please view our resources page.