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In and Around Cars

A smiling toddler safely buckled up in his car seat. Buckle Up addresses the greatest cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States and around the world.

In 1997, Safe Kids teamed up with General Motors Foundation to create the Buckle Up program. What started with a focus on child safety seat checks at GM dealerships has grown into a broad multifaceted program, which addresses child safety in and around cars. It also includes activities that advocate for stronger state child passenger safety laws.

Since its inception, the Buckle Up program has grown to include four main components: 

  • Child Passenger Safety: Addressing car seats, booster seats and seat belts. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among children ages 1 to 19. Our certified technicians teach families how to use and install car seats so children are safe for every ride. This begins the process of ensuring passenger safety right into adulthood.
  • Heatstroke Awareness and Prevention: On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle. To help prevent tragic and unnecessary deaths due to heatstroke, Safe Kids Worldwide and the General Motors teamed up to launch Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car to encourage everyone to ACT. 
  • Frontovers and Backovers Prevention: Public education on driveway and parking lot injuries known as “frontovers” and “backovers.” Drivers responsible for backover and frontover deaths are often family members or friends of the children killed. In an effort to raise awareness about protecting kids in and around cars, Safe Kids created a program called Spot The Tot
  • Getting Ready to Drive: Passenger education for preteens and teens before they drive. At age 13 and 14, a teen’s risk of dying while riding with a teenage driver is double what it was when he or she was younger. Countdown2Drive was designed to teach preteens and young teens about safe driving before they get behind the wheel.

The Results

The success of the Buckle Up program is measured by two things: lives saved and injuries prevented. When the program started in 1997, 6,576 kids 19 and under died in car crashes almost every year. Today, the number of deaths has been cut by more than half.

To date, certified child passenger safety technicians at nearly 100,000 child passenger safety events with more than 2 million car seats checked for proper installation. Additionally, more than 700,000 car seats have gone to at-risk families, and more than 28 million people have been exposed to the program’s events and outreach activities.

With support from the GM, Safe Kids coalitions conduct more than 3,000 events and over 700 permanent inspection stations each year. Buckle Up reaches even more people in need with 118 mobile child safety vans, completely equipped to conduct child passenger safety events.

Around the World

We live in a global society, where the number of cars in the world will double in the near future. Our shared goal is to reach as many kids and families as possible, not only in the United States – where 4 million babies are born each year – but around the world. We will continue to use all of the experience we gained through Buckle Up to save lives everywhere.