UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Child Passenger Safety

Keywords: Passenger Safety (PubMed Search)

Posted: 11/18/2011 by Mimi Lu, MD
Click here to contact Mimi Lu, MD

Child Passenger Safety.

Perhaps one of the greatest contributions emergency physicians can provide to society comes in the  form of anticipatory guidance. It is important to take the opportunity during the ED encounter to provide information to parents to prevent future injuries. Child passenger safety is one clear example. With over 330,000 pediatric visits to EDs  across the US annually attributed to motor vehicle collisions, the need to provide clear recommendations to parents on how to restrain their children in their vehicle is paramount. Despite a recent survey of over 1000 EPs in which 85% of respondents indicated child passenger safety should routinely be a part of pediatric MVC discharge instructions, only 36% of EPs knew the latest guidelines on child passenger safety.   The American Academy of Pediatrics provides such guidelines. These recommendations were recently adjusted in 2011.

(1) Infants up to 2 years must be in REAR-facing car seats
(2) Children through 4 years in forward-facing car safety seats
(3) Belt-positioning booster seat for children through at least 8 years old
(4) Lap-and-shoulder seat belts for those who have outgrown booster seats. How does one know when the child has outgrown the booster seat?
     a. Can the child sit with his/her knees bent at the edge of the seat?
     b. Does the shoulder belt lie across the middle of the chest/shoulder?
     c. Does the lap belt lie across the upper thighs and not the abdomen?
(5) Children younger than 13 should sit in the rear seats

Special Thanks to JV Nable, MD, EMT-P for writing this pearl.


1. Zonfrillo MR, Nelson KA, Durbin DR. Emergency physician's knowledge and provision of child passenger safety information. Acad Emerg Med 2011;18:145-151.
2. Durbin DR. Child passenger safety. Pediatrics 2011;127:788-793