Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Child Passenger Safety

Child Passenger Safety Crash Investigation Data
Determining Mechanisms of Injury
CIRP's Dr. Dennis Durbin reviews crash investigation data with the interdiscplinary child passenger safety research team

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among all children, and result in more than 400,000 injuries to children less than 18 years old annually. The Center began exploring child passenger safety research in 1997, when its founders identified the deployment of front passenger air bags as a cause of fatal injury for children, even in minor crashes. Because children are not simply "small adults," there was a need for research into age-appropriate child restraint systems and best practices for child passenger safety.

In 2012, CHOP launched its new child passenger safety website, Car Seat Safety for Kids. The site is dedicated to helping parents keep their children safe in motor vehicles, with information and downloadable tools also available for educators and child passenger safety technicians.

Areas of Child Passenger Safety Research:

Surveillance and Epidemiological Data Collection

Behavior Change Research

  • Evaluation of Reminder Technology to Prevent Pediatric Heat Stroke
    This study's intent was to evaluate products designed to prevent children 0 to 24 months of age from being left behind accidentally in closed, parked vehicles, which could potentially lead to heat stroke.
  • Boosting Restraint Norms Among At Risk Groups
    This community-based social marketing campaign is designed to promote booster seat use among at-risk populations. The campaign is steeped in Partners for Child Passenger Safety data, focus group testing of messages and interventions with parents of booster seat-aged children in both the US and Beijing, China. 
  • Reducing Misuse of Child Restraints
    This area of reearch focuses on developing a better understanding of the socio-demographic, technological, psychological, and behavioral factors associated with various types of restraint misuse and then using this knowledge to inform the development of interventions.
  • Caregivers' Confidence in Performing Child Safety Seat Installations
    Research into this area of child restraint misuse looks at perception vs. reality in the accuracy and security of child safety seat installations.

Injury Mechanism and Causation

  • Injury Risk of Belted Occupants - Part II
    The objective of this study is to continue exploration of the injuries and their causation experienced by seat belt restrained occupants - both adults and children - in the rear seat in order to understand if pre-teens and adolescents are at an elevated risk.
  • Head Contact Points Study
    The objective of this study is to delineate head/face injury causation scenarios for rear-seated, restrained children in frontal crashes and create a contact map of the vehicle interior.
  • Clavicle Fractures Due to Belt Loading in Rear-seated Adolescent Occupants
    The objectives of this research are to investigate the fracture tolerance of the pediatric clavicle through statistical, analytical, and radiological techniques. Using information obtained from crash data, the study will examine the sensitivity of the pediatric shoulder's response to belt loading in both oblique and frontal loading scenarios.

Regulations and Laboratory Evaluation

  • Comparing FMVSS 213 Sled Test to the Full-scale Vehicle Crash Environment
    This study will evaluate the fidelity of, and provide data driven guidelines for, the regulatory sled tests used worldwide to influence child restraint system (CRS) design and safety. This phase of research will determine which 213 bench variable (seat cushion stiffness, belt stiffness, belt/LATCH/tether anchor location) lead to the differences in kinematic outcomes between the 213 bench and the vehicle CRS observed in year 1 experiments.
  • CRS Misuse in the Field and in Full-vehicle Crash Tests
    This study aims to reduce child restraint system misuse through field observation of consumer practices, experimental studies, and dissemination of findings. Researchers will analyze the field misuse data from the Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project (PA TIPP) checkpoints to further explain behavior in the modern child passenger safety consumer beyond what has been currently published. The study should also clarify the performance of properly used and misused child restraint systems in full-scale vehicle crashes.