When it comes to crashes, children are much safer than they used to be. The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per million children younger than 13 is less than a quarter of what it was in 1975. The rate at which children die as passenger vehicle occupants has decreased 55 percent, while the rate at which they are killed as pedestrians and bicyclists is about one-tenth of 1975 rates.

Proper restraint use can reduce crash deaths and injuries even more. Appropriate child safety seats provide significantly more protection in a crash than safety belts alone.

Choose the right restraint for your child’s age and size, and always seat kids in the rear.

  • All infants and toddlers should ride rear-facing until they reach the height or weight limit of their child restraints, which may not be until age 2 or older.
  • Once they outgrow rear-facing restraints, children should ride in a harness-equipped forward-facing child restraint until they reach the height or weight limit of the child restraint. Top tethers should be used whenever a child restraint is installed forward-facing.
  • When children outgrow child restraints, they should use belt-positioning booster seats until adult safety belts fit properly.

Booster seat evaluations

Our booster seat ratings help take the guesswork out of choosing a booster that will provide good safety belt fit for typical 4 to 8 year-olds.

LATCH ratings

When it comes to installing child restraints, some vehicles are easier than others. Our vehicle ratings include evaluations of LATCH hardware with details by seating position.

Keeping children safe in crashes

This fact sheet, also available as a brochure, help parents choose the right kind of restraint for a child's age and size and provide general information on installation and use. The fact sheet also is available in Spanish.