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September 15, 2014

Washington, D.C. – As part of National Child Passenger Safety Week, Safe Kids Worldwide released today “Buckle Up: Booster Seats,” 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 report, 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 do not know that a child should be at least 57 inches (4’9”) to ride in a car without a booster seat. In fact,in practice, nine out of ten parents move a child from a booster seat to a seat belt too soon.

Download the report and infographic.

“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” 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” (4’9”) tall and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds.

The 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.

  • Remember: A child needs to be at least 57” tall (4’9”) and weigh 80-100 pounds to ride with just a seat belt.
  • Check that a car seat is installed properly here.
  • Learn more about car seat safety at

Child Passenger Safety Week (September 14-20, 2014) culminates with National Seat Check Saturday on September 20. Safe Kids will host more than 500 child seat inspections across the country, offering guidance from certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians on proper installation of child safety and booster seats. Parents and caregivers can visit to locate an event in their community.

About Safe Kids Worldwide

Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations dedicated to providing parents and caregivers with practical and proven resources to protect kids from unintentional injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost one million children die of an injury each year, and almost all of these tragedies are preventable. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 600 coalitions in the United States and in 23 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. Since 1988, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by 55 percent. Working together, we can do much more for kids everywhere. Join our effort at

About the GM Foundation
Since its inception in 1976, the GM Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to American charities, educational organizations and to disaster relief efforts worldwide. The GM Foundation focuses on supporting Education, Health and Human Services, the Environment and Community Development initiatives, mainly in the communities where GM operates. Funding of the GM Foundation comes solely from GM. The last contribution to the GM Foundation was made in 2001. For more information, visit