Objective: This study reviews trends in rear-facing direction, top tether use, booster seat use, and seating position for children 12 years or younger among motor vehicle passengers in Indiana. Methods: This is an observational, cross-sectional survey of drivers transporting children 15 years and younger collected at 25 convenience locations randomly selected in Indiana during summers of 2009–2015. Observations were conducted by certified child passenger safety technicians (CPST). As the driver completed a written survey collecting demographic data on the driver, the CPST recorded the child demographic data, vehicle seating location, the type of restraint, direction the car safety seat (CSS) was facing, and use of the CSS harness or safety belt as appropriate. Data were analyzed for infants and toddlers younger than 24 months, children in forward-facing CSS, booster seat use, and seating position for children 12 years or younger. Results: During the study period, 4,876 drivers were queried, and 7,725 children 15 years and younger were observed in motor vehicles. Between 2009 and 2015, 1,115 infants and toddlers (age birth to 23 months) were observed in motor vehicles. For infants <1 year, rear-facing increased from 84% to 91%. During the study years the greatest increase in rear facing was for toddlers age 12–17 months (12–61%). Rear facing for those from 18–23 months did not significantly change. Of the 1,653 vehicles observed with a forward-facing car seat, using either the seat belt system or lower anchors, an average of 27% had the top tether attached. For installations of forward-facing seats using the lower anchor, 66% employed the top tether. Among children age 4–7 years observed booster seat use decreased from 72% to 65% during the observation period. Finally, for vehicle seating position, in our sample, more than 85% of children 12 years or younger were seated in a rear seat vehicle position. Unfortunately, 31% of 8- to 12-year-old children were observed in the front seat. Conclusions: Overall, these trends demonstrate an improvement in child passenger safety practices among Indiana drivers. However, this study illuminates areas to improve child passenger safety, such as rear facing for toddlers 18 to 23 months, increasing top tether use, booster seat use, and an emphasis on rear seat position for children 8 to 12 years. This information can be used by primary care providers and child passenger safety technicians and other child passenger safety advocates to develop counseling points and targeted educational campaigns.
- Child passenger safety
- occupant protection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Safety Research
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health