BACKGROUND: Current safety guidelines recommend that children age 12 or younger sit in the rear seat of passenger vehicles. However, front row seating among these children remains common. To develop future educational and other interventions to decrease front row seating of young children, it is important to examine factors associated with this behavior.
METHODS: We identified factors associated with front row seating of children 12 years of age or younger using data from a cross-sectional study of children who were the single passenger in crashes of insured vehicles in 15 U.S. states. Data were collected by insurance claims records and a telephone interview. A probability sample of 3775 crashes representing 27678 crashes with child occupants was collected between 1 December 1998, and 30 November 2002. Multivariate Poisson regression was used to identify specific child, driver, and vehicle characteristics associated with front row seating.
RESULTS: When children were the sole occupants in the vehicle, approximately 1 in 3 (31%) sat in the front seat. The child's age and restraint use, the driver's age and relationship to the child passenger, the type of vehicle, and the presence of a passenger airbag were all associated with front row seating.
CONCLUSIONS: Educational interventions can be tailored to address the specific needs of subgroups of drivers and children to reduce front row seating. In addition, these data could be used to support legislative interventions to limit front row seating of younger children when a teenager is driving.
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