Boosting child passenger safety

The Challenge 

Putting children in a car seat or booster seat that’s appropriate for their age and size is the most effective way to protect young children involved in motor vehicle crashes. In 2015, 89% of children ages 0-12 years old were using a restraint system when traveling in a vehicle. However, only 45% of 4- to 7-year-old children were using booster seats, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Westat will be helping NHTSA conduct the 2017 National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats (NSUBS), which involves observing children in cars and interviewing the adult occupants. The survey enables NHTSA to target its outreach programs and campaigns on child passenger safety.

Our Solutions 

  • We developed the original research design for NSUBS in 2006 and conducted the study periodically since then.
  • Westat updated the design for 2015 and revised database software and training materials to accommodate the redesign.
  • We established data collection sites and prepared customized maps that identify every site, as well as the date and time when field staff will visit.
  • The study involves field staff observing children in cars at the selected locations and interviewing the adult occupants to determine if the child’s restraint is the correct type for his or her age and size.

The Results 

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for most age groups until adulthood.
  • NSUBS allows NHTSA to better understand whether children through age 12 are using appropriate restraints, and how such use varies across geographic and demographic groups.

Our Client 

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)