Skip to Content
Skip to Navigation

Policy Statement—Child Passenger Safety

From the American Academy Of Pediatrics
Policy Statement—Child Passenger Safety
Committee On Injury, Violence, And Poison Prevention

Child passenger safety has dramatically evolved over the past decade; however, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death of children 4 years and older. This policy statement provides 4 evidence-based recommendations for best practices in the choice of a child restraint system to optimize safety in passenger vehicles for children from birth through adolescence:

  1. rear-facing car safety seats for most infants up to 2 years of age;
  2. forward-facing car safety seats for most children through 4 years of age;
  3. belt-positioning booster seats for most children through 8 years of age; and
  4. lap-and-shoulder seat belts for all who have outgrown booster seats. In addition, a
  5. evidence-based recommendation is for all children younger than 13 years to ride in the rear seats of vehicles.

It is important to note that every transition is associated with some decrease in protection; therefore, parents should be encouraged to delay these transitions for as long as possible. These recommendations are presented in the form of an algorithm that is intended to facilitate implementation of the recommendations by pediatricians to their patients and families and should cover most situations that pediatricians will encounter in practice. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges all pediatricians to know and promote these recommendations as part of child passenger safety anticipatory guidance at every health-supervision visit.

Key Words: child passenger safety • motor vehicle crash • child restraint system

Abbreviations: AAP = American Academy of Pediatrics • CSS = car safety seat