Use of Child Safety Seats in Metropolitan Areas of Virginia during Summer 1994: Final Report

Report No: 95-R12

Published in 1994

About the report:

The Transportation Safety Administration of the Department of Motor Vehicles has, for a number of years, requested observational surveys of child safety seat use in the Commonwealth. The present survey was conducted in the summer of 1994 in the four metropolitan areas of the state where 54% of Virginia's population resides. The data were categorized as correct use, incorrect use, and no use for children judged by the survey team to be under age 4, that is, those required to be in a child safety seat under state law. Correct use was higher (70.1%) in the rear seats than in the front seats (49.3%). For the entire car, 64.0% of the children observed were in a correctly used child seat, 25.7% were not in a child seat, and 10.4% were in a seat that was obviously misused. The rate of incorrect use was probably underestimated because, with an in-traffic survey, the lap/shoulder belts holding the child seat in place cannot be checked for proper tension. The data also showed variations in the patterns of use in the four areas of the state surveyed. When the 1994 and 1993 data were compared, the total correct use rate was higher in 1994 and the incorrect use and non-use rates were lower. Although there was an overall improvement in use rates, a pattern of use has appeared the central area has the highest rate of non-use, the western area has the highest rate of incorrect use, and the eastern area has the highest rate of correct use. It is recommended that the high rates of non-use and misuse be addressed through (1) programs that identify the problems and (2) increased education and enforcement on the part of the state and its localities. In addition, because the population of persons under age 4 is constantly changing (i.e., infants are born and others turn 4 and move out of the group), ongoing public information campaigns are required.

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.


Other Authors

Charles B. Stoke

Last updated: December 18, 2023

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