Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.

  DOT HS 809 671

2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient’s Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Misuse of Child Restraints

5. Report Date

May 2003

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)
Lawrence E. Decina and Kathy H. Lococo

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

TransAnalytics, LLC
1722 Sumneytown Pike
Box 328
Kulpsville, PA 19443

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Research and Technology
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
400 Seventh Street, S.W., Room 5119
Washington, DC 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report
October 2001-May 2003

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

15. Supplementary Notes

 COTR: Alan Block, NTI-131

16. Abstract

  The purpose of this study was to obtain a measure of the current level of misuse of child restraint systems (CRSs) among the general public. The project focused specifically on forms of misuse that can be expected to raise the risk of injury. CRS use and critical misuse data were collected in the Fall of 2002 for 5,527 children weighing less than the driver-estimated weight of 80 lb in 4,126 vehicles in 6 States: Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Results showed that 62.3 percent of these children were restrained in a CRS; 25.9 percent were restrained in a safety belt (SB); and 11.8 percent were unrestrained. By weight class, CRS use was 97.1 percent for children less than 20 lb; 86.4 percent for children 20 to 39 lb; 41.7 percent for children 40 to 59 lb; and 10.9 percent for children 60 to 79 lb. Overall critical CRS misuse was 72.6 percent. Most common critical misuses were loose harness straps securing the child to the CRS and loose vehicle SB attachment around the CRS. Other types of CRS misuses were also observed and recorded in the study. A positive relationship was found between drivers using safety belts and children being restrained—91.7 percent of the children who were transported by belted drivers were restrained in either a child restraint system or a safety belt, compared to 62.3 percent of the children transported by unbelted drivers. Recommendations are provided for periodic monitoring of CRS misuse, research needs, and enforcement and education.

17. Key Words

car seat, data collection, child passenger safety (CPS), field observations, child restraint system (CRS), safety belt (SB) use, critical CRS misuse, unrestrained, CRS use

18. Distribution Statement

  Document is available to the public through the
National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Virginia 22161

19. Security Classif. (Of this report)

20. Security Classif. (Of this page)

21. No. of Pages

22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72)                             Reproduction of completed page authorized