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Car seat distribution & education programs

Evidence Rating

Scientifically Supported

Health Factors

Car seat distribution programs provide parents with car seats (i.e., infant, convertible, and booster seats) free of charge, via loan, or low cost rental (CG-Motor vehicle injury). These programs also include efforts to teach parents how to correctly install and use car seats (Zaza 2001). Programs are generally targeted to low income parents of infants and can be implemented through hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased use of car seats

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that car seat distribution and education programs increase car seat use (CG-Motor vehicle injury, , Towner 2001). Programs are effective for rural, urban, and suburban populations, and when implemented in hospital, clinic, or home settings (Zaza 2001). Programs have also been shown to increase the use of booster seats among children 4 to 8 years old ()

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Examples

Federal funding for car seat distribution and education programs was authorized under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. In 2012, 28 states and DC received a total of $7 million to implement car seat distribution, education, and enforcement programs (GHSA-Child safety seats).

Several states also provide free or low cost car seats to low income families through their state Department of Health. The Ohio Buckles Buckeyes program, for example, provides free car seats to eligible low income families; families must attend an educational class on proper use and installation before they receive seats (ODH-OBB).

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

CG-Motor vehicle injury - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Motor vehicle injury prevention.

Zaza 2001 - Zaza S, Sleet DA, Thompson RS, Sosin DM, Bolen JC, Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Reviews of evidence regarding interventions to increase use of child safety seats. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2001;21(4 Suppl):31–47.

Cochrane-Ehiri 2006* - Ehiri JE, Ejere HOD, Magnussen L, et al. Interventions for promoting booster seat use in four to eight year olds travelling in motor vehicles. Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews. 2006;(1):CD004334.

Towner 2001 - Towner E, Dowswell T, Mackereth C, Jarvis S. What works in preventing unintentional injuries in children and young adolescents: An updated systematic review. London, UK: Health Development Agency; 2001.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

GHSA-Child safety seats - Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Section 2011 child safety and child booster seat incentive grants.

ODH-OBB - Ohio Department of Health (ODH). Child passenger safety: The Ohio Buckles Buckeyes (OBB) program.

Date Last Updated

Apr 9, 2015