Urban Safety Restraint Use by Infants, Preschoolers, and Older Children in Virginia: The 2004 Survey Results

Report No: 05-R27

Published in 2005

About the report:

In 2004, Virginia's child restraint use survey was conducted in four metropolitan areas of the state (northern, eastern, central, and western) and in four mid-size cities (Charlottesville, Danville, Lynchburg, and Harrisonburg) at the same sites, on the same day of the week, and at the same hour of the day as in previous surveys. The principal goal of the survey is to monitor (1) safety and booster seat use by infants under 4 and preschoolers 4 and 5 years of age, and (2) safety belt use by older children 6 to 16. Each survey estimates compliance with the child restraint law in place at the time. The surveys have been conducted every year since 1983. Changes were made in the 2002 child restraint survey methodology to reflect the changes in the child restraint law. The age categories previously used were changed to (1) infants under 4, (2) preschoolers 4 and 5, and (3) older children 6 to 16. These categories will allow investigators to continue to analyze the longitudinal restraint use data using the previous age categories (infants under 4 and children 4 to 16) and to evaluate the impact of the legislative changes made in 2002. In this survey, safety belt and child safety seat use were divided into three categories: correct use, incorrect use, and nonuse. The definitions of correct use and incorrect use for child safety seats were changed in 2003 to measures that could be consistently determined from outside the vehicle. Incorrect use for children under 6 was defined to include safety seat or lap belt use by a child either too large or too small for that form of restraint. For children 6 to 16, the definition of incorrect use was not changed and included wearing the shoulder belt either behind the back or under the arm. Total use rates defined as correct plus incorrect use are also presented in the report to represent a rate not biased by any remaining variability in the incorrect use category. A total of 2,596 children were observed during the 2004 survey: 375 infants under 4 and 2,221 children 4 to 16. In 2004, total child restraint use for infants in metropolitan areas and in mid-size cities combined was 98.1% and correct use was 92.8%. Total seat belt use among 4- to 16-year-olds in metropolitan areas and in mid-size cities combined was 76.0%, and correct use was 65.4%.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Cheryl Lynn, Jami Kennedy

Last updated: November 28, 2023

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