Child Passenger Safety

Child Passenger Safety

GHSA Policy

Click here to view GHSA's Policy and Priorities on Occupant Protection

The first car seats were invented in 1921, following the introduction of the Ford Model T. The earliest versions were essentially sacks with a drawstring attached to the back seat.


In 1971, the federal government established minimum standards for child safety seats and restraint systems to reduce the number of children killed or injured in motor vehicle crashes. Today all states and territories have child passenger safety laws, although requirements of the laws vary widely.

Seat Belts & School Buses

The federal government is re-examining whether children should be buckled up when they ride in a school bus.

Currently, seven states – California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, and Texas – have seat belt requirements for school buses.

Traffic safety groups agree that a strong child passenger safety law should:

  • Cover all children up to age 16 in all seating positions.
  • Be primary enforcement.
  • Require all children to be in age- and size-appropriate restraint systems (rear-facing, forward-facing, booster seat).
  • Require children younger than 13 to be properly secured in rear seats (provided the vehicle has them), unless all available rear seats are in use by children younger than 13.
  • Apply to all vehicles equipped with seat belts; no vehicles (such as pickup trucks, taxis, or rental cars) should be exempt.
  • Make the driver responsible for restraint use by children under 16, regardless of the relationship to the child.
  • Allow passengers to ride only in seating areas equipped with seat belts and prohibit passengers in the cargo areas of pickup trucks.
  • Ensure that children with special needs use proper restraints.
  • Contain no exemptions, such as allowing children to be unsecured if all seat belts are in use, attending to the personal needs of the child, medical waivers, out-of-state vehicles, and/or drivers who are not the vehicle owner or who are not related to the child.


All states and territories require child safety seats for infants and children fitting specific criteria, but requirements vary based on age, weight and height.

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