Partners for Child Passenger Safety

In 1997, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the University of Pennsylvania, and State Farm Insurance Mutual Automobile Insurance Company joined forces to create Partners for Child Passenger Safety (PCPS), a unique industry/academic research partnership with the goal of providing the nation's only large-scale child-focused crash surveillance data system.

PCPS applied CIRP’s interdisciplinary research-to-action approach to studying injuries from many perspectives to determine the most effective ways to improve child passenger safety. For more than a decade, PCPS informed new product development, test protocols and federal motor vehicle safety standards, public education and curricula, policy, and medical practice to improve child restraint use and advance the safety of children in motor vehicle crashes (MVCs). PCPS research has set the global standard in child occupant protection knowledge.

After proving its validity and usefulness, PCPS concluded data collection December 31, 2007.

Putting Research In Action

PCPS Methodology

State Farm auto insurance claims served to identify crashes involving children. With appropriate consent and security safeguards in place, information was transferred to CHOP for telephone interviews and in-depth crash investigations. 

With policyholder consent, information was forwarded electronically from State Farm headquarters to the research team at CHOP. Data was manually selected for on-site crash investigations and automatically selected for detailed telephone interviews. These interviews gave researchers a comprehensive view of the range of crash and injury severity, while detailed crash investigations provided them with information to help determine why children are injured in crashes.

As of December 31, 2007, when State Farm ended its data collection, more than 875,000 children involved in 600,000 crashes reported to State Farm were enrolled in the study. PCPS researchers had conducted 33,000 in-depth interviews, and analyzed over 800 on-site investigations.

Our Research in Action

One of PCPS' first research findings found that the majority of children ages 3 to 8 were not properly restrained in child restraints or booster seats. Instead, they were placed in vehicle seat belts, which are designed for adults, not children. Soon after, the effect of this behavior on injury risk was quantified by researchers using PCPS data. The researchers found that seat-belted children ages 2 to 5 were 3 ½ times as likely to be injured in crashes as those placed in child restraints and booster seats.

Sharing these findings on child restraint use with CPS organizations that, in turn, promoted age-appropriate restraint for young children, quickly increased the level of booster seat use in the US. Moreover, educational and legislative interventions brought about by PCPS research have dramatically increased the number of children who now use child safety seats and booster seats. Between 1999 and 2007, child restraint use (including booster seats) among 4- to 8-year-olds increased from 15% to 63%. Child restraint use for all children through age 8 rose from 51 percent in 1999 to 78 percent in 2007.

This PCPS line of research illustrates the research-to-action cycle that is at the center of every project undertaken at CIRP, from identifying the problem to developing evidence-based interventions for child passenger safety.

Published Findings

Between 1998 and 2011, PCPS researchers published more than 80 peer-reviewed scientific papers in more than 20 journals and presented at hundreds of academic, advocacy and governmental meetings around the world. They summarized their findings in a series of 15 reports that included prolific statistics, in-depth analysis, and suggested action points for change. These publications and lectures have often set the context and priorities for child occupant protection efforts.

Principal Investigators: Flaura K. Winston, MD, PhDDennis Durbin, MD, MSCE

Funding: State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company 

Education and Advocacy Tools

We are constantly seeking new ways to develop helpful tools for advocates, educators, healthcare professionals, and legislators that are based on the latest research. Visit our library to download interactive videos, annual reports, state-by-state fact sheets, and more.