Seat Belt Safety, Child

Car crash injuries are the leading cause of death in children 5 to 14 years of age. Seat belts greatly reduce the risk of death or crippling injuries from car crashes.

Because seat belts are designed to fit an average size adult, children should remain in a booster seat until they reach 4 feet 9 inches in height (1.4 m) and are between 80 to 100 pounds (36 to 45 kg).  Many children will not meet these requirements until they are between 8 and 12 years of age. Children ready to use a seat belt will be able to sit comfortably with their back against the seat, and their legs will bend at the edge of the seat. To fit properly, a seat belt should fit low across the child's hips and high on the thighs. The shoulder harness should sit on the collarbone and not lay across the face or neck. Children should use a booster seat until the seat belt fits properly.

Seat belts and car seats should always be used, even when riding in vehicles equipped with air bags. Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not by themselves. The back seat is the safest place for all children. Children risk additional injury if they are too close to the dashboard. This is especially true in vehicles with airbags.


You may contact the National Transportation Safety Board at if you have questions regarding laws in your state related to the use of seat belts and approved car seats or child restraints.