Automobile accidents are the number one killer of children between the ages of one and 14 years, and many of these fatalities could be prevented by the use of proper restraint systems. Unfortunately, family physicians and pediatricians have been uninformed in this aspect of preventive medicine, and have consequently been negligent in informing parents about automobile safety. Counseling of parents on the proper use of car seats should begin in the prenatal period and should continue during regular pediatric checkups. Some of the existing apathy about child restraints can be offset by understanding parents' excuses for not using these protective devices (e.g. child safe in parent's arms, expense, child too young to ride in car seat, child's dislike for riding in seat, inconvenience, not needed for short trips, and fear that child might be trapped in car during an accident). The validity of these excuses is easily challenged; parental objections must be countered for effective counseling. Infants should ride in a rearward-facing device in a semireclining position. The device should contain energy-absorbing padding and its own harness system; the entire restraint should be held in place by a standard lap belt. Three types of devices are available for the older child: older child car seat, protective plastic shield, and safety harness. The restraints are usually outgrown when the child weighs 40 lb., is 40 in. tall, or is four years old. From then until he is 55 in. tall, only a standard lap seat belt is required. The standard seat belt/shoulder harness system can be used after the child is 55 in. tall. A child should be seated in the rear of the car if possible, and any restraint is better than none. It is noted that restrained children are better behaved and that child restraints are often combined with other articles of juvenile furniture.

  • Corporate Authors:

    American Academy of Family Physicians

    1740 West 92nd Street
    Kansas City, MO  United States  64114
  • Authors:
    • Policastro, A M
  • Publication Date: 1979-10

Media Info

  • Pagination: p. 139-142
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00384723
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-029 082
  • Files: HSL, USDOT
  • Created Date: May 30 1984 12:00AM