Parents Say Child Passenger Safety Laws Should Be Consistent, AAA Survey Reveals

(LOS ANGELES, Jan. 17, 2008) — Commemorating today’s 30th anniversary of the first child passenger safety seat law in the nation, the Automobile Club of Southern California and AAA revealed that the child car-seat laws have proven to be lifesaving measures but parents feel that these laws should be consistent around the country.

California has been a leader on child passenger safety (CPS) and was one of the first states to upgrade its child passenger safety law. The Golden State also has the fourth highest number of CPS seat technicians (801) in the nation, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California and AAA.

The Auto Club and AAA today released a survey in conjunction with the first state child passenger safety seat law which took effect three decades ago in Tennessee in January 1978. According the AAA survey, more than half of all parents (54 percent) look to their state law for guidance on how to restrain their children. While a strong majority (93 percent) of parents surveyed said they are aware of their state’s child restraint laws and most (86 percent) feel that these laws should be consistent across the country, however, less than half (39 percent) can accurately identify the age at which their state allows a child to ride in an automobile with only a lap and shoulder belt.

California requires child safety seats and booster seats for children under age 6 and requires those children to ride in the back seat. California’s law was adopted in the 1990s and upgraded in 2000. The California law has had an impact. In 1995, only 8.5 percent of children age 4 to age 6 who survived in fatal crashes were using child restraints. As of 2004, more than 42 percent of children in this age range who survived in fatal crashes were in child restraints.

“Today many more parents make it a priority to properly restrain their children when driving because of the proven life-saving benefits of car seats,” said Anita Lorz of the Auto Club’s community affairs program. “Yet despite this positive shift in attitudes, more than one-third of children under age 5 who were killed in fatal crashes in 2006 were unrestrained. In total, 145 of the 452 children under age 5 who died in crashes were unrestrained.”

More information about California’s law and tips for seat installation for parents can be found in the Auto Club’s Birth to Boosters brochure, which is available free of charge at the Auto Club’s 77 local offices. Parents can also contact local California Highway Patrol offices to find out about car seat inspections.

Research for AAA’s child safety restraint survey is based on a national online survey of 1,000 parents with children under age 8.