NSC Calls for Appropriate Child Passenger Restraints Across Multiple Modes of Transportation

NSC Calls for Appropriate Child Passenger Restraints Across Multiple Modes of Transportation

Improvements needed in airplanes and school buses.

​Itasca, IL – The National Safety Council is calling for uniform child passenger safety practices across multiple modes of transportation, including school buses, airplanes and personal vehicles. Among these recommendations, the Council urges the installation of lap and shoulder belts on new school buses with proper restraints for children with special needs, and NSC calls for all children ages 2 and younger to be properly restrained in their own seat on airplanes using an FAA-approved child restraint device.

The Council also encourages ambulances, police vehicles and recreational vehicles to accommodate the unique needs of child passengers whenever possible, and calls for additional consideration when transporting children with special needs. 

"Our patchwork system of laws, regulations and standards means the safety of our most vulnerable travelers can slip through the cracks," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, NSC president and CEO. "It is time for consistent policies to ensure children arrive safely, regardless of the mode of transportation or the jurisdiction they travel through."

Seat belts are proven to save lives. Child restraints in personal vehicles reduce the risk of death by up to 71% among infants, 54% among toddlers and 45% among children ages 4-8.[i] Although school buses remain the safest way to transport children to and from school, seat belts add an extra layer of protection, particularly in rollover and side-impact crashes. On airplanes, it is impossible for adults to safely hold children during a crash or severe turbulence.

Additional NSC recommendations include:

  • Using a dynamically tested child restraint device that is appropriate for each child's weight, height, age and developmental level until proper seat belt fit is achieved – usually between ages 8 and 12
  • Requiring the use of rear-facing child restraint devices at least through 2 years of age
  • Using a five-point harness-equipped child restraint device appropriate for their height and weight through the upper limits of their seat and until at least age 5
  • Using a belt-positioning booster (BPB) seat until the seat belt fits correctly, at least until the child is 8 years old, 4 feet 9 inches tall and 80 pounds; correct fit is typically achieved at older ages
  • Requiring children younger than 13 to ride in the back seat; if a child must ride in the front seat, the vehicle seat should be moved as far from the dashboard as possible[ii]
  • Using specific child restraint devices for children with special needs
  • Passing primary enforcement seat belt legislation in all states for all seating positions

A full explanation of National Safety Council recommendations can be found here.


About the National Safety Council

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.

[i] According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
[ii] When someone in the vehicle must ride in the front seat, select the oldest passenger and never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an active air bag.

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