Evaluating the Effectiveness of Child Safety Seats and Seat Belts in Protecting Children from Injury

30 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2006 Last revised: 18 Mar 2021

See all articles by Joseph J. Doyle

Joseph J. Doyle

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Economics, Finance, Accounting (EFA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Steven D. Levitt

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation

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Date Written: September 2006

Abstract

Young children are required to use child safety seats, and the age threshold at which children can legally graduate to seat belts has steadily increased. This paper tests the relative effectiveness of child safety seats, lap-and-shoulder seat belts, and lap belts in preventing injuries among motor vehicle passengers aged 2-6. We analyze three large, representative samples of crashes reported to police, as well as linked hospital data. We find no apparent difference in the two most serious injury categories for children in child safety seats versus lap-and-shoulder belts. Child safety seats provide a statistically significant 25% reduction in the least serious injury category. Lap belts are somewhat less effective than the two other types of restraints, but far superior to riding unrestrained.

Suggested Citation

Doyle, Joseph John and Levitt, Steven D., Evaluating the Effectiveness of Child Safety Seats and Seat Belts in Protecting Children from Injury (September 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12519, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=930609

Joseph John Doyle

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Economics, Finance, Accounting (EFA) ( email )

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Steven D. Levitt (Contact Author)

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