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Directions in Highway Safety, Summer 2008 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
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Late Winter 2008 | Vol. 10 | No. 4

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AAA Commemorates 30 Years of Child Passenger Safety, Calls for Stronger Laws

A recent AAA survey, released to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the nation's first child safety seat law, finds that parents strongly support child passenger safety laws. Despite this, nearly 100 children under the age of 5 die each year in crashes they could have survived if they had been using the proper child safety seat. AAA is calling for state legislators to enact stronger laws and provide parents with better education to help save more young lives.

The survey reveals that 54 percent of parents look to their state law for guidance on how to restrain their children. Nearly all parents surveyed (93 percent) were aware of their state's child restraint laws, but less than half (39 percent) could correctly identify the age at which their state allows a child to ride with only a lap and shoulder belt.

Mother and Baby in Car Seat

According to AAA president and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet, "Parents look to the law to provide guidance about when and how their children should be restrained, but, in many cases, the laws are letting them down."

The survey was released in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the first child safety seat law, which took effect in Tennessee in January, 1978. This law inspired other states to take action, and during the following decade, all 50 states passed some form of child passenger safety law. These laws, together with improvements in car seat technology, are saving the lives of thousands of children each year, including an estimated 392 children younger than 5 in 2006.

While the U.S. has made great progress in child passenger safety in the past 30 years, most state laws still do not meet the recommended best practices, particularly for older children (ages four to eight), who should be riding in booster seats. AAA and other safety advocates continue to push for stronger, consistent legislation in all states.

More information is available on the AAA website at