Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Then and Now: Looking Back on Partners for Child Passenger Safety

September 27, 2018
Partners for Child Passenger Safety

In support of Child Passenger Safety Week (#CPSWeek), we reminisce on Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS) and look forward to future advances in child occupant protection in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute's Cornerstone blog. We have abridged the article here, and you can click on the link at the end to read the full article that recounts how this breakthrough program evolved from a chance hospital cafeteria discussion between Drs. Flaura Winston and Dennis Durbin and a visitor from State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.


In 1997, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia partnered with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, one of the largest automobile insurance companies in the U.S., to create the nation’s first large-scale, child-focused crash surveillance system. Over the next 10 years, the Partners for Child Passenger Safety Program (PCPS) studied more than 875,000 children involved in 600,000 car crashes, conducted 33,000 in-depth interviews, and analyzed over 800 on-site investigations.

By its close in 2007, the world’s largest study of children in crashes had produced a robust set of recommendations based on hard data and backed by scientific expertise that would shape and advance legislation, vehicle design, and public health education for years to come. Since PCPS began, the U.S. has cut the number of children dying from crash-related incidents every year in half— from more than 2,000 deaths in the 1990s to about 1,000 deaths today. Countless more children have been spared from serious injuries.

We celebrated the program’s 20th anniversary in 2017, recognizing both its tremendous impact and the unique research-to-action method that it deployed. A true “collaboration” in every sense of the word, PCPS involved industry stakeholders and child and traffic safety organizations from the very beginning— a decision that would drive the greatest impact for children’s health.

The legacy of PCPS continues through a number of current engineering projects at CIRP focused on enhancing the effectiveness of vehicle and child occupant restraint systems. As the automobile industry moves into a new era of innovation, advanced technology will bring both new challenges to protect children’s safety, as well as greater opportunities to drive novel research -- as seen with PCPS over 20 years ago. 

Read More about CIRP's current child occupant protection research.

Read the full Cornerstone article.

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