Seatbelts Are Effective

Research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on occupant protection devices demonstrates that when adults are buckled up, children often are as well, leading to safer drives. Among fatally injured children from birth to 15, the research revealed the following:

  • When drivers were unrestrained, 63 percent of children up to age 3 were also unrestrained; conversely, when a driver was wearing a safety belt, 25 percent of children up to age 3 were unrestrained.
  • Among fatally injured children age 4 to 7, 81 percent were unrestrained when the driver was unrestrained; however, when the driver was wearing a safety belt, that number fell to 37 percent of children age 4 to 7 were unrestrained.
  • Among fatally injured children 8 to 15, 91 percent were unrestrained when the driver was unrestrained. Conversely, when the driver was wearing a safety belt, 47 percent of children 8 to 15 were unrestrained.
  • Child safety seats are 71 percent effective in reducing fatalities among infants (less than 1 year old) and 54 percent effective for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in passenger cars. For infants and toddlers in light trucks, the effectiveness in reducing fatalities is 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively.
  • Among passenger vehicle occupants over 4 years old, safety belts saved an estimated 15,434 lives in 2004.
  • Booster seat use substantially reduces the risk of injury for children 4 to 8 years old; however, most children in this age group are currently (and very often incorrectly) restrained by safety belts designed for adults. A recent study by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that the use of seat belt positioning booster seats lowers the risk of injury to children who are involved in crashes by 59 percent, compared with the use of vehicle safety belts alone.
  • When lap/shoulder safety belts are used properly, they reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat occupants riding in passenger cars by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. For light-truck front-seat occupants, safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 65 percent.
  • Ejection from passenger vehicles is one of the most harmful events that can happen to people during a crash.
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