Car seat incentive & education programs

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Scientifically Supported

Strategies with this rating are most likely to make a difference. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently positive results.

Health Factors  
Retired Strategy

Retired strategies are no longer updated.

Date last updated

Car seat incentive programs educate parents and caregivers about proper use of car seats (i.e., infant, convertible, and booster seats) and reward parents and/or children for correct use1, 2. Rewards vary from inexpensive trinkets or coupons to more valuable prizes, often donated by community businesses3. Highway safety offices and car seat advocates often play leadership roles in education, distribution, and incentive programs. Programs vary in length and intensity and can be implemented in targeted settings (e.g., car dealerships or fire stations) or throughout entire communities1.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Increased use of car seats

What does the research say about effectiveness?

There is strong evidence that car seat incentive and education programs increase car seat use regardless of the value of the incentive offered1, 4, 5, 6.

Incentive and education programs have been shown to increase infant and convertible seat use when implemented in daycare centers and across communities. Such programs have demonstrated effects up to five months after completion1, however, additional evidence is needed to confirm long-term effects3.

Incentive and education programs also appear to increase use of booster seats among children 4 to 8 years old4.

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated no impact on disparities likely.

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

2 NHTSA-Car seats - How to find the right car seat? Parents Central. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

3 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.

4 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.

5 Porter 2011 - Porter BE, ed. Handbook of Traffic Psychology. London: Elsevier; 2011.

6 Dellinger 2007 - Dellinger A, Sleet D, Shults RA, Rinehart C. Handbook of injury and violence prevention, Chapter 4: Interventions to prevent motor vehicle injuries. In: Doll L, Bonzo S, Sleet D, Mercy J, Haas E, eds. Handbook of injury and violence prevention. Atlanta: Springer; 2007:55-79.