Protecting Children
i
Executive Summary
Protecting Children
A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
By
Melissa A. Savage
Irene T. Kawanabe
Jeanne Mejeur
Janet B. Goehring
James B. Reed
William T. Pound, Executive Director
7700 East First Place
Denver, Colorado 80230
(303) 364-7700
444 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 515
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 624-5400
December 2002
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
The National Conference of State Legislatures is the bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states,
commonwealths and territories.
NCSL provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state
issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.
NCSL has three objectives:
•
•
•
To improve the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures.
To promote policy innovation and communication among state legislatures.
To ensure state legislatures a strong, cohesive voice in the federal system.
The Conference operates from offices in Denver, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.
Printed on recycled paper
©2002 by the National Conference of State Legislatures. All rights reserved.
ISBN 1-58024-257-X
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Executive Summary
CONTENTS
List of Tables ..................................................................................................................................... iv
Preface and Acknowledgments ........................................................................................................... v
About the Authors ............................................................................................................................. v
Executive Summary ......................................................................................................................... vii
1.
Introduction ............................................................................................................................... 1
2.
Occupant Protection ................................................................................................................... 3
Background ........................................................................................................................ 3
Types of Child Safety Seats .................................................................................................. 5
Air Bags .............................................................................................................................. 7
Pickup Trucks ...................................................................................................................... 9
State Laws .........................................................................................................................10
3.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Issues ............................................................................................14
Background ...................................................................................................................... 14
Walking to School Safely .................................................................................................... 15
Childhood Bicycling Safety ................................................................................................15
Scooter Safety ....................................................................................................................18
State Laws .........................................................................................................................18
4.
Getting to School Safely on the Bus ...........................................................................................20
Background ...................................................................................................................... 20
Federal Action ...................................................................................................................20
Occupant Protection on School Buses ................................................................................. 22
Transporting Preschool-Age Children ................................................................................. 23
Use of 15-Passenger Vans for Pupil Transportation ..............................................................23
Licensing School Bus Drivers ............................................................................................. 23
Safe Routing of School Buses ............................................................................................. 24
State Laws .........................................................................................................................24
5.
Child Endangerment and Drunk Driving ................................................................................. 26
Background ...................................................................................................................... 26
State Laws .........................................................................................................................28
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
6.
Teen Drivers ............................................................................................................................. 30
Background ...................................................................................................................... 30
Elements of Graduated Driver Licensing ............................................................................ 30
Nighttime Driving Restrictions ..........................................................................................31
Minimum Supervised Driving Practice ...............................................................................31
Passenger Restrictions ......................................................................................................... 31
Graduated Driver Licensing Studies ................................................................................... 31
Driver’s Education .............................................................................................................32
Licensing Linked to Non-Driving Issues ............................................................................. 32
State Laws .........................................................................................................................33
7.
Conclusion ...............................................................................................................................34
Appendices
A. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Glossary of Terms—
Child Passenger Protection .............................................................................................. 39
B. State Seat Belt Laws ........................................................................................................... 45
C. State Child Occupant Protection Laws ...............................................................................47
D. Children not Covered by Child Restraint or Seat Belt Laws .................................................50
E. State Pickup Truck Laws .................................................................................................... 52
F. State Drunk Driving Child Endangerment Laws ................................................................ 56
G. State Graduated Licensing Laws ......................................................................................... 63
Notes ............................................................................................................................................. 65
References ....................................................................................................................................... 67
Resources .........................................................................................................................................73
LIST OF TABLES
Table
1. Proper Child Safety Seat Use ....................................................................................................... 6
2. State Bicycle Mandatory Helmet Use Laws ................................................................................. 19
3. Child Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities, 1994-2000 ...................................................................27
iv
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Executive Summary
PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws, is produced by the National
Conference of State Legislatures in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA). This book is intended to provide information to state legislators and other policymakers about child safety relating to motor vehicles, pedestrian and
bicycling issues, school bus safety, child endangerment and teen driving.
The authors would like to thank the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for
their support of this effort to educate state legislators and other policymakers about traffic
safety issues. Appreciation for reviewing the book and making helpful comments is extended to Steve Blackistone, National Transportation Safety Board and staff members with
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Thanks also are extended to NCSL
staff who reviewed and assisted with the book: Leann Stelzer, Scott Liddell, Martha King
and Matt Sundeen.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Melissa Savage covers traffic safety and transportation issues for the National Conference of
State Legislatures. She has authored informational publications regarding transportation
issues including school bus safety, occupant protection, photo radar and highway design.
Prior to her position at NCSL, Ms. Savage worked in the Office of Legislative Legal Services
at the Colorado State General Assembly. She received her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado at Denver and her bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University.
Jan Goehring, an attorney, directs the America’s Legislators Back to School Week program
for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Ms. Goehring has also handled traffic
safety, aggressive driving, motor carrier and transportation technology issues. She authored
numerous reports and articles about transportation and civic education. Prior to her position at NCSL, Ms. Goehring worked at the Denver City Attorney’s Office, the Santa Clara
County, California, District Attorney’s Office and served as a U.S. District Court judicial
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
clerk. She received her law degree from the University of Denver and a bachelor’s degree
from Stanford University.
Irene Kawanabe is an attorney who specializes in traffic safety for the National Conference
of State Legislatures. Ms. Kawanabe received her law degree from the University of Denver
College of Law, her master’s degree from the University of Colorado at Denver and her
bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary.
Jeanne Mejeur has been with the National Conference of State Legislatures for twelve years
and is Research Manager in the Legislative Information Services program. She staffs the
Research and Committee Staff Section, co-staffs the Labor and Workforce Development
Committee, teaches orientation and legal research classes for NCSL staff, works on technical assistance projects for state legislatures and provides Westlaw searches and research
assistance for NCSL staff. Her issue areas include drunk driving, consumer protection,
labor and employment, property and civil law. Jeanne received a B.A. in political science
and an M.A. in public administration from Western Michigan University and a J.D. from
Cooley Law School. Prior to coming to NCSL, she served as legal counsel and legislative
liaison for a human services organization in Michigan. Jeanne is a 1999 graduate of the
Legislative Staff Management Institute.
James B. Reed directs the Transportation Program at the National Conference of State
Legislatures, the nonprofit, bipartisan organization regarded as the nation’s leading authority on state legislative issues. The Transportation Program assists states on numerous public policy issues from traffic safety to radioactive waste transport, through expert testimony,
responses to requests for information and in-depth research and analysis. Mr. Reed is the
author of dozens of policy briefs, reports, articles and books on various transportation topics. Prior to his fourteen years at NCSL, Mr. Reed worked for the Texas Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and former U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen. He received
his master’s degree in public affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University
of Texas and his undergraduate degree in political science from Colorado College.
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Executive Summary
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Motor vehicle crashes cost $32.6 billion in medical care and $230.6 billion in overall
expenses each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA), every American shares that burden at about $820 per person per year. Each
state’s economy is affected by the costs associated with motor vehicle crashes. The per
capita crash costs for each state vary from roughly $600 to $1,200, or between 1.3 percent
and 3.8 percent of the per capita income for each state.
On average, crashes cause about 41,000 deaths each year and millions of non-fatal injuries.
Most people believe that these fatalities and injuries happen by chance and cannot be
prevented. However, most motor vehicle crashes are caused by behaviors that are predictable and preventable. Behaviors such as not wearing seat belts, not using child safety seats
and drunk driving can lead to injuries—and even fatalities—resulting from car crashes.
Seat belt use alone saved 11,900 lives, 325,000 serious injuries and $50 billion in medical
care, lost productivity and other injury related costs in 2000. Therefore, steps to improve
traffic safety save both lives and tax dollars.
One group most affected by traffic crashes is children. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the
leading cause of fatal unintentional injuries for children between the ages of 4 and 14. In
2001, 2,658 children under age 16 died in car crashes—slightly lower than the 2000 toll of
2,811 children. The rate has dropped by nearly 50 percent during the past 25 years. State
legislators can take credit for this improvement. Whether by passing stronger child occupant
protection laws, endorsing public education efforts or informing their constituents, state
legislators play an important role in working toward improved child passenger safety.
Occupant Protection and Children
As vehicle miles traveled have increased during the last few decades, traffic fatalities have
continued to decline. This pattern can be attributed to safer cars, a more educated public
and increased seat belt use. One proven way to increase seat belt use is through state seat
belt laws. Forty-nine states (New Hampshire is the exception) have seat belt laws and all
50 states have child passenger protection laws. The child passenger protection laws throughout the 50 states are primary enforcement laws: police officers can stop a vehicle solely for
violation of this law. (Certain provisions of the child passenger protection laws in Colorado
and Nebraska call for secondary enforcement.) Such laws provide protection to most children, but some fail to cover all children in all seating positions. Each year, state legislatures
consider hundreds of bills that are designed to strengthen child passenger protection laws
and close gaps in coverage.
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One gap is protection for child passengers between the ages of 4 and 8. Often, children
who reach age 4 are too big for car seats but not big enough to use an adult-sized safety
belt. NHTSA recommends that children should ride restrained in booster seats until they
are 8 years old, unless they exceed 4’9” in height. Studies have shown that children under
4’9” are too small to ride safely when restrained by an adult-sized seat belt. During the
past few years, more and more states have proposed booster seat laws. Today, 13 states have
passed laws requiring the use of booster seats.
Some opponents of child passenger protection laws argue that the laws pose a burden to
low-income families. In answer to this dilemma, many states already have established
child safety seat donation and loan programs. Under these programs, low-income families
can receive a child safety seat or can borrow one. Some of these programs are funded
through private companies and grants; in some cases, funds are generated through fines
from child safety law violations. However, some booster seats are relatively inexpensive and
cost as little as $20.
Since their inception, air bags have been tremendously successful in saving lives. They also
have been blamed for the deaths of many young children, however. The primary reason for
these deaths was that the child was too small to absorb the force of the inflating air bag.
Today, air bag deaths among children have decreased. Some attribute this decrease to
public awareness campaigns designed to inform parents about the risks associated with air
bag use and the benefits of having children sit in the rear seat. Further, air bag on and off
switches are available for vehicles such as pickup trucks that have only front seats. A few
states have passed laws requiring that children under a certain age to be seated in the rear
seat if they are riding in a vehicle that is equipped with a passenger air bag.
The cargo areas of pickup trucks are designed to carry cargo, not passengers. Cargo areas do
not meet occupant safety standards that apply to passenger seating positions. However,
space limitations inside pickup truck cabs sometimes force passengers to sit in the back.
People who ride in these cargo areas are taking a substantial risk. On average, between
1994 and 2000, 63 child fatalities (ages 1 to 17) per year were associated with pickup
truck cargo areas. Thirty-one states address passengers riding in the cargo areas of pickup
trucks to varying degrees through state law.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Issues
Children suffer hundreds of injuries each year in pedestrian and bicycle crashes. Communities in many states have joined to increase awareness and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. Some communities have redesigned streets and sidewalks to ensure a higher level of
safety, while others have increased enforcement of current laws. Many states have laws
governing pedestrians and bicyclists.
Safe streets and neighborhoods are not the only problems facing child pedestrians. Many
children ride their bikes, skate and ride scooters. Head injuries among child bicyclists
account for nearly 60 percent of fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes. To combat this
problem, several states have passed laws requiring helmet use by children.
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Executive Summary
Getting to School Safely on the Bus
Although some children choose to ride their bikes or walk to school, thousands of others
begin and end their day with a trip on a big yellow school bus. Statistically, school bus
travel is one of the safest forms of transportation. To keep it that way, safety organizations
continue to study current school bus occupant protection and structural guidelines. NHTSA
has established Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards governing the manufacture of school
buses and guidelines for school bus safety. Once these guidelines have been incorporated as
state law or regulation, a state then can strengthen the federal standards.
A major controversy surrounding school bus travel is occupant protection on the buses.
Currently, school buses are equipped with compartmentalized seats, which provide crash
protection through protective pockets consisting of strong, closely-spaced seats with energy-absorbing seat backs. In an effort to further protect children, California, Florida,
Louisiana, New Jersey and New York have passed laws requiring the installation of seat
belts on school buses. To ensure that school bus drivers receive adequate training, some
states have passed laws that strengthen school bus driver training and licensing requirements.
Most children killed in school bus crashes are pedestrians. These crashes usually occur
when the students are getting on or off the school bus. The area surrounding the school
bus is extremely dangerous, since passing motorists frequently do not obey the stop arm
and illegally pass the school bus. Many states have passed laws that enhance penalties for
illegally passing a school bus.
Child Endangerment and Drunk Driving
Another traffic safety issue facing children is alcohol-related crashes. More than 500 children are killed each year in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. In most cases, the children were riding in a vehicle operated by a drunk driver. To combat this problem, at least
27 states have passed laws to protect children and punish those drunk drivers who put
them at risk.
Teen Drivers
Once children reach the teenage years, child passenger protection might not be considered
an issue. Fatalities run high, however, among teen drivers and passengers. In an effort to
save teen lives, many states have implemented some form of graduated licensing laws.
Under these laws, teens receive their licenses gradually after they gain driving experience
and, in some cases, take a driver’s education course. Other states have gone a step further
to place additional restrictions—such as restricting the number of passengers and establishing nighttime driving curfews—on teen drivers.
State legislatures, safety organizations, community groups, law enforcement officials and
parents play an important role in reducing childhood deaths and injuries associated with
motor vehicle crashes. State legislative efforts not only have helped increase seat belt and
child safety seat use but also have reduced the number of child passengers riding in pickup
truck beds. The legislative efforts also have helped reduce the number of teen drivers
involved in fatal crashes and have helped keep school bus travel one of the safest modes of
transportation. The above efforts are only a few of the ways state legislators have worked to
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improve traffic safety for children. Suggested improvements to traffic safety are continually
raised, and state legislators will continue to pass new laws, strengthen existing laws, and
educate the public about how to keep their children safe.
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Introduction
1. INTRODUCTION
Motor vehicle travel can be dangerous for children. In fact, the leading cause of fatal
injuries to children between the ages of 4 and 14 is car crashes. During the past 25 years
much progress has been made in the area of child passenger protection. State laws have
been passed, federal standards have been published, and parents have become more educated about how to keep their children safe in the car, on the school bus, while walking and
while biking. These new laws, together with educational campaigns have helped to reduce
the fatality rate for child passengers by nearly 50 percent over the past 25 years.
Although those in the traffic safety community are pleased with the progress that has been
made, many feel there is still much work to be done to keep child occupants safe. They
believe that the gaps in current state child occupant protection laws need to be closed.
State legislatures consider hundreds of bills each session designed to close these gaps and to
strengthen current laws designed to keep child occupants safe. Legislators also consider
laws to increase safety for child pedestrians and those who ride on school buses. Laws and
programs designed to keep young drivers safe also have been passed by state legislatures.
These programs include:
•
Education campaigns to raise public awareness about child occupant protection and
other traffic safety issues.
•
Community programs to encourage safe walking and biking practices.
•
State agency partnerships with private companies to provide car seats to low-income
families.
These and other state laws, programs and education campaigns have been shown to effectively promote the use of child safety seats, bike helmets and seat belts, thereby assisting
state legislators, parents and other members of the community to help ensure the highest
level of safety for child occupants.
This book provides state legislators and other interested parties with general information
and policy options concerning children and traffic safety. Each chapter provides background information about a specific policy issue. A separate section in each chapter describes state laws on each policy topic. Chapter one discusses child occupant protection
issues, including child safety seats, air bags and pickup trucks, in addition to current state
laws and programs. Chapter two addresses pedestrian issues facing children, including
bicycle helmet laws and walking to school safely. Chapter three details state and federal
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
laws regarding school buses. Chapter four discusses alcohol-related child endangerment
issues. Chapter five provides information related to teen drivers, including graduated licensing laws and other tools designed to keep teen drivers safe. Appendices provide additional information, resources and state-by-state information about laws.
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Occupant Protection
2. OCCUPANT PROTECTION
Background
As motor vehicle use increased during the 1950s and
1960s, so did injuries and fatalities resulting from crashes.
Individuals and groups that were concerned about safety
began to scrutinize motor vehicle design. Some argued
that most crashes were the result of driver error, while
others felt that the crashes could not be prevented and,
therefore, the best way to reduce injuries and fatalities
was to build more crashworthy cars.
What State Legislators Can Do
Motor vehicle travel continues to become safer through the passage
of new laws and the strengthening of existing laws. However, each
year more than 40,000 people are still fatally injured in traffic crashes
that cost society $230.6 billion. State legislators can continue to
evaluate and improve—when necessary—existing state child and
adult occupant protection laws. By ensuring that the gaps in child
passenger protection laws have been closed and parents are aware
that the safest place for a child passenger is buckled up in the back
seat, additional lives could be saved and injuries prevented.
State legislators also can have an effect in their communities. By
In 1966, Congress passed the National Traffic and Motor
working with community groups and organizations, state legislators
Vehicle Safety Act and the Highway Safety Act. These
can support child passenger education programs, fitting inspection
acts marked the first federal government action regarding
stations and car seat loaner programs.
motor vehicle injury prevention. The National Highway
Safety Bureau, created as a result of the two acts, focused
on making changes to motor vehicle and highway design. Today, the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation,
places major emphasis on occupant protection in motor vehicles. NHTSA works to educate the public regarding a variety of occupant protection issues, publishes motor vehicle
safety standards, and conducts studies to evaluate both current traffic safety equipment in
motor vehicles and driver behavior.
Public awareness campaigns also are used by NHTSA to educate and inform the public
about traffic safety issues. These campaigns help to promote traffic safety activities and
issues in cities and communities throughout the country. NHTSA sponsors four annual
safety events, including Child Passenger Safety Week in February, Buckle Up! America
Week in May, Back to School Safely in September, and Operation America Buckles Up
Children in November.
NHTSA, traffic safety organizations and state legislatures have helped to increase motor
vehicle safety and decrease the number of fatalities and injuries associated with crashes.
However, thousands of people are killed each year in motor vehicle crashes, including, on
average, more than 2,000 children. Children—like adults—are put at the greatest risk for
death and injury by riding unrestrained or improperly restrained in cars. In 1996, the
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted a study to examine child passenger restraint use. Results of the study indicate that, in 62 percent of the cases, the child
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
The Four Es
According to NHTSA, four basic approaches are used to control
motor vehicle injury:
•
•
•
•
Education,
Enforcement,
Engineering, and
Economic Incentive.
Through education, the public is presented with information, new
skills or training that can be used to reduce the risk of injury. The
ultimate purpose is to change behavior.
safety seat was used incorrectly. Specifically, the seat was
either improperly installed in the motor vehicle or the
child was secured improperly. In 1999, the NTSB estimated that approximately 10 million children were riding
in child safety seats that were used incorrectly. Further
research has shown that about 96 percent of parents think
they have installed and are using the safety seat correctly.
In reality, studies show that only two of 10 are correctly
installed and used.
To increase the correct use of child safety seats, the NTSB
recommends the establishment of child safety seat fitting
inspection stations. Optimally, these fitting inspection
Enforcement is a tool that can be used to compel traffic safety. Traffic
stations are staffed with certified child safety seat technisafety laws provide both regulations and consequences.
cians who are able to provide instruction to parents and
guardians about proper child safety seat selection, instalRoadway improvement, air bags and speed bumps are examples of
lation and use. Fitting inspection stations may be estabengineering’s role in reducing injuries sustained in motor vehicle
crashes. Through safer roads and safer cars, injuries can be reduced.
lished at automotive dealerships, repair shops, firehouses,
health centers and at mobile stations. Since the NTSB
Economic incentives can be used to encourage or deter certain types
made its recommendations in 2000, several automobile
of behavior.
manufacturers, state safety agencies, fire departments and
other agencies have established child safety seat fitting programs. Following the NTSB’s recommendations, several states have trained and certified
state troopers and fire personnel as child safety seat technicians and have established permanent fitting inspection stations. To protect technicians from liability, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia passed laws that provide immunity if the technicians acted in good faith.
What Happens in a Crash?
First, the vehicle hits an object or is hit by another vehicle. The
vehicle comes to a sudden stop and buckles and bends as it absorbs
the energy.
Second, the body strikes the interior of the vehicle at the same speed
as the vehicle strikes the object. Energy is transferred from the vehicle
to the person. The energy is absorbed either by bending the person
or by bending the restraining device.
Third, the internal collision occurs when the body’s organs are propelled against each other and internal structures. This collision often
causes life-threatening injuries.
DaimlerChrysler created a program, Fit for A Kid, with
permanent fitting inspection stations at dealerships in all
50 states. In partnership with the National SAFE KIDS
Campaign, General Motors donated 81 minivans to be
used as mobile fitting inspection stations. General Motors also has established 30 permanent fitting inspection
stations. The Ford Motor Company established the Boost
America program to provide booster seats to low-income
families and to support existing fitting inspection stations.
Federal Vehicle Standards
NHTSA is responsible for publishing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Effective April 1, 1971,
FMVSS 213 requires that child safety seats must be designed to restrain and protect children in a crash. Further, FMVSS 213 (49 CFR 571.213) requires that child safety seats
have the ability to be attached to the vehicle by using the seat belts and that the safety seat
distribute—rather than concentrate—crash forces over the child’s torso. An updated standard, which became effective on Jan. 1, 1981, requires a 30-mph crash test with specific
results. One goal of the NHTSA standards is to eliminate the sale of inadequate child
safety seats. NHTSA recently proposed revisions to the current FMVSS regarding child
safety seats. The revisions include updating the seat assembly used to test child restraints;
adding state-of-the-art infant and child test dummies and a new, weighted dummy to
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Occupant Protection
better test booster seats; adding new injury criteria to
protect against neck injury; and extending the standard
to child restraints recommended for use by children up
to 65 pounds.
NHTSA is responsible for issuing recalls for motor vehicles and other safety items—including tires and child
safety seats—that do not meet FMVSS. NHTSA also
maintains a child safety seat recall database to inform parents and other interested parties about child safety seat
defects and has established procedures for the public to
report safety problems. (See appendix A for the NHTSA
glossary of child passenger safety terms).
NHTSA Child Passenger Safety Certification Process
In 1995, a blue-ribbon panel was created to establish distribution
plans for low- or no-cost child safety seats. Once this group established guidelines for distributing the seats, it was made apparent that
a standardized training program for child passenger safety was needed.
NHTSA coordinated a group of interested organizations to develop
and plan for the pilot testing of standardized child passenger safety
training. Today, NHTSA has a Standardized Child Passenger Safety
Training Course and a certification process for technicians and instructors. This course provides high-quality, consistent training to
child passenger technicians across the country. NHTSA maintains a
database containing the names and locations of certified technicians.
Types of Child Safety Seats
Infant-Only
Infant-only child safety seats usually are designed to transport infants up to at least age 1
and who weigh up to 20 pounds. These seats are intended to face the rear and usually are
equipped with a three-point or five-point harness. Rear-facing child safety seats are designed to protect infants from injury because their necks are not strong enough to support
their heads. In a severe frontal crash, it is likely that, if the infant were facing forward, the
injuries sustained would cause death.
Infant seats are small, lightweight and portable. Some are even equipped with carrying
handles. Some models include a detachable base that can be attached, with a seat belt, to
the car. The infant is secured in the seat, then the seat is snapped into the base.
As with other types of car seats, weight and age limits apply to infant seats. In most cases,
infants outgrow their car seats once they weigh more than 20 pounds (although some
infant seats can accommodate infants up to 35 pounds). For maximum protection, the top
of the infant’s head should be no higher than 1 inch from the top of the safety seat. Table
1 provides more information about child safety seats.
Convertible Seats
These car seats are larger and heavier than infant seats. Such seats are designed to last
longer because most can be used for children who weigh between 20 pounds and 40
pounds. These seats can be used as rear-facing infant seats and as forward-facing seats for
children more than 1 year old. The seats are designed so infants can remain rear-facing
until they meet the weight and age guidelines for a front-facing seat.
Some convertible seats have recently been put on the market that can accommodate higher
height and weight limits. These seats usually cost more, but in some cases can be used
until the child reaches 100 pounds.
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Table 1. Proper Child Safety Seat Use
Criteria
Weight
Type of Seat
Seat Position
Always Be Sure:
Infant
Toddler/Preschool
Young Children
Birth to 1 year, at least
20-22 pounds
Infant only or rear-facing
convertible
Rear-facing only
Between 20 and 40 pounds
(older than age 1)
Convertible/forward-facing
Forward-facing
More than 40 pounds;
ages 4-8, unless 4’9”
Belt-positioning booster
seat
Forward-facing
Children to one year and
at least 20 pounds;
should be in rear-facing
seats
Harness straps should be at
or above shoulders; most
seats require top slot for
forward-facing seat
Belt positioning booster
seats must be used with
both lap and shoulder
belts
All children age 12 and
under should ride in the
back seat
The lap belt fits low
and tight across the
lap/upper thigh area
and the shoulder belt
fits snug crossing the
chest and shoulder to
avoid abdominal
injuries
All children age 12 and
under should ride in the
back seat
Harness straps should be
at or below shoulder level
Warning
All children age 12 and
under should ride in the
back seat
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2000; and American Academy of Pediatrics, 2000.
Booster Seats
During the last few years, several safety organizations have begun to publicize the need for
older children to ride secured in booster seats. Booster seats are designed for children
between the ages of 4 and 8 who weigh more than 40 pounds. NHTSA recommends that
all children age 12 and under ride in the back seat, properly buckled into age-appropriate
safety seats. A study recently conducted by NHTSA showed that only a little more than 6
percent of children who should have been in a booster seat—according to age and weight
guidelines—actually were. Because of this, NHTSA created a public education campaign,
Boost ‘Em Before You Buckle ‘Em, to instruct people about booster seats and their use.
Many children outgrow their safety seats when they reach 40 pounds. At this point, they
should be moved to a booster seat until they are big enough to wear an adult seat belt.
According NHTSA, all children who have outgrown child safety seats should be properly
restrained in booster seats until they are age 8, unless they are 4’9" in height. Whether the
determination is based on height or weight, NHTSA firmly believes that children who are
too big for traditional car seats may be too small to use adult-sized shoulder and lap belts.
In 1997, the Partners for Child Passenger Safety, a collaborative group including Children’s
Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania and State Farm Insurance Companies,
began collecting data to study child passenger safety in car crashes. The study, which
continues through 2003, has developed a child-focused crash surveillance database, conducted phone interviews with drivers to gain details about crashes, and used computerized
simulations to reconstruct crashes. The purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of vehicle characteristics, restraint use and misuse, crash dynamics, and the effects
of these elements on child injuries.
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Occupant Protection
Car Seat Loaner Programs
One issue facing low-income families is the expense associated with purchasing child safety
seats. To address this issue, states, cities and communities have created programs designed
to distribute free car seats or to loan car seats to low-income families. Programs like these
exist in every state. In some cases, the programs are coordinated at the state level; in other
cases, the programs are set up in local communities, cities and counties.
One example of such a program is the Child Passenger Safety Program in Ohio, which is
coordinated by the Ohio Department of Health. The program distributes child safety seats
to low-income families in Ohio. Not only does the program provide car seats to the families, it also provides education about their proper installation and use. The child safety
seats for the program are purchased through grant funds and fines from violations of child
safety seat laws.
Child Restraint Anchorage System
NHTSA has issued new regulations to make child safety seat installation easier. The new
regulations require forward-facing child safety seats manufactured after Sept. 1, 1999, to
have a top tether strap that attaches the back of the safety seat to the shelf behind the rear
seat of a passenger car or the seat back or floor of a van or SUV. Most vehicles and child
safety seats manufactured after Sept. 1, 2002, must be equipped. By Sept. 1, 2002, new
vehicles and child safety seats will be equipped with lower anchors and tethers for children
(LATCH) systems, which include two lower anchorage points and top tether systems installed in the back two seating positions in most cars, minivans and light trucks.
Air Bags
Another issue facing child motor vehicle passengers is air bags. According to the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety, more than 120 million (56 percent) of the more than 211
million cars and light trucks on U.S. roads have driver air bags. More than 95 million (45
percent) of these also have passenger air bags. Another 1 million new vehicles with air bags
are being sold each month.
As of the 1999 model year, the federal government required automobile manufacturers to
install driver and passenger air bags for frontal protection in all cars, light trucks and vans.
Air bags—energy-absorbing buffers between people and the hard interiors of vehicles—
inflate in a fraction of a second (1/25th) immediately after a serious crash begins. Most air
bags are designed to inflate in crashes at speeds above 10 to 12 miles per hour. Air bags
installed in the steering wheel for the driver and in the right front instrument panel for the
front seat passenger are designed to protect people in serious frontal crashes that account
for more than half of all crash deaths.1 In crashes, the people riding inside a vehicle do not
stop moving immediately. Instead, in frontal crashes people continue to move forward as
the vehicle’s front end crushes. At this point in the crash, air bags and seat belts work
together to protect people by allowing them to slow down within the vehicle. Air bags also
help protect people’s heads and chests by preventing them from hitting the steering wheel,
instrument panel or windshield.
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
According to NHTSA, more than 7,585 people are alive as of February 2002 because of
automobile air bags. Driver deaths are being reduced by 14 percent and passenger deaths
by approximately 11 percent.
However, the energy required to inflate air bags can injure people who are on top of, or very
close to, air bags as they begin to inflate. The injuries occur because of people’s positions
when the air bags begin to inflate. Many air bag deaths involve people who were not using
seatbelts or who were positioned improperly. People who are not using seat belts are at risk
because they are likely to move forward if hard braking or other such maneuvers occur
before a crash.
Most deaths resulting from inflating air bags have been children. The majority of these
have been infants in rear-facing seats who were placed in the front seat of vehicles with
passenger air bags. In 1996, air bags were blamed for the deaths of 35 children. The use of
air bags was increasing during this time, and many were concerned that, as use increased,
so would deaths associated with their use. By 2000, however, as the use of air bags continued to increase, the number of children killed by them dropped to 18. Improvements in
technology have contributed to the decrease in deaths. However, many safety advocates
believe that parents also can take some of the credit; more parents are following safety
recommendations to place their children in the back seat.
Because the passenger air bag in the front seat is too close to the infant’s or child’s head, the
rear seat is the safest place for children of any age to ride. According to NHTSA’s air bags
brochure, rear-facing infant seats should never be placed in the front seat if the air bag is
turned on. “Children age 12 and under should ride in the back seat.”2 The only exception
is if the vehicle is specially equipped with sensors that detect a rear-facing infant seat in the
front seat and automatically switches off the air bag or if a switch can be used to turn off the
passenger air bag. In May 2000, NHTSA issued a rule that will affect some 2004 model
year vehicles. The rule requires either that the air bag turn off automatically if a young
child is in the front seat or that the air bag deployment is such that it is much less likely to
injure the child.
The National Transportation Safety Board completed a study in 1996 on the performance
and use of child safety restraint systems, seat belts and air bags for children in passenger
vehicles. The study analyzed the data from 120 vehicle crashes in a two-year period. Air
bags deployed in 13 crashes in which a child was seated in the front passenger seat. In seven
of the 13 crashes, the child was either critically injured or killed because of contact with the
air bag. As a result of this study, the NTSB issued a series of safety recommendations
between 1995 and 1997 to address the dangers that air bags pose to children. Following
the NTSB’s recommendations, the following actions were taken.
•
The automobile industry sent warning letters and labels to owners of 60 million vehicles on the road at the time that were equipped with air bags, advising the owners
about air bag dangers to children.
•
NHTSA required warning labels about the dangers of air bags to children in all newly
manufactured vehicles equipped with air bags, effective February 1997.
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Occupant Protection
•
NHTSA and the automobile and insurance industries initiated the Air Bag and Seat
Belt Safety Campaign in May 1996 to educate the public about the importance of
seating children in the back seat of vehicles that are equipped with air bags.
•
Since May 1997, automobile manufacturers have been permitted to install depowered
air bags in newly manufactured vehicles.
•
Certain at-risk groups can apply for permission from NHTSA to install on-off switches
for one or both front air bags.
•
In May 2000, NHTSA established performance criteria for advanced air bags that will
be safe for all occupants, regardless of age and size.
•
Child passenger safety literature now advises that children age 12 and under ride in the
back seat of a vehicle that is equipped with front passenger air bags.
On-off switches allow air bags to be turned on and off. The switch can be installed for the
driver, the passenger or both. Beginning Jan. 19, 1998, consumers could choose to have an
on-off switch installed for the air bags in certain risk groups. Consumers must certify that
they—or the vehicle user—are in one of four risk groups: 1) infants in rear-facing infant
seats; 2) drivers or passengers with unusual medical conditions; 3) children ages 1 to 12
who must ride in the front seat; or 4) drivers who cannot sit 10 inches from the air bag. If
eligible, the consumer must fill out an NHTSA request form. Upon approval, NHTSA
sends the consumer a letter authorizing an automobile dealer or repair shop to install an
on-off switch in the vehicle.
NHTSA cites several precautions when a driver chooses to switch off an air bag. First,
drivers must remember to turn on the air bag when someone who is not at risk is in the
vehicle; the air bags do not automatically switch on. Every on-off switch has a light to
remind the consumer when the air bag is turned off. Second, air bags increase the protection from crashes. In some vehicles, the air bag works in conjunction with specifically
designed seat belts. In these vehicles, the seat belt yields to avoid concentrating too much
force on the chest. The air bag, designed to prevent the occupant from moving too far
forward after the seat belt yields, cushions forward movement. Without this cushion, chances
are increased that the occupant will hit the vehicle interior.
Air bag on-off switches may not be necessary in the future. Automobile manufacturers are
developing “smart” or “advanced” air bags that may be able to tailor deployment based on
crash severity, occupant size and position, or seat belt use. These bags are expected to
eliminate the risks attributed to current air bags.
Pickup Trucks
An additional area of occupant protection that concerns passengers—especially children—
is riding in the cargo areas of pickup trucks. Pickup trucks have become more popular and
now represent approximately one in five of the vehicles owned by U.S. households. Approximately 40 million pickups are registered in the United States. Pickups, routinely
used to transport children, can be hazardous to the safety of children in several ways.
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
The cargo areas of pickup trucks are designed to carry cargo, not passengers. Cargo areas
do not meet occupant safety standards that are applicable to passenger seating positions.
However space limitations inside the cabs of pickup trucks sometimes force passengers into
the back. People who ride in these cargo areas are taking a substantial risk. Most deaths
and injuries attributed to pickup truck crashes are a result of passengers being thrown out
of the cargo area during a rollover. A person riding in the cargo area of a truck is 26 times
more likely to be ejected than a person riding in the cab. Compared with properly buckled
cab occupants, the risk of death for those in the cargo area is eight times higher.
According to information from the National Children’s Center for Rural Agricultural Health
and Safety and the Fatality Analysis Recording System maintained by NHTSA, 63 child
fatalities (ages 1 to 17) were associated with pickup truck cargo areas, on an annual average
between 1994 and 2000.
Studies from California, Kentucky, Mississippi and Utah show that ejections and falls account for most youth injuries involving pickup truck cargo areas. These studies also indicate that one-third of such injuries occur during non-crash events such as stopping or
swerving or involve a youth falling from a moving truck. One-third of the victims were
standing up, sitting on the tailgate or “horsing around.”
Truck camper shells do not necessarily prevent ejections from pickup truck cargo areas, and
passengers may be injured by the shell or harmed by carbon monoxide fumes that collect
in the shell from a leaking or a rear exit exhaust system. Pickup truck cargo area fatalities
and injuries commonly occur during summer months, in daylight or dusk hours, on paved
roads, and in rural areas. Males are three times more likely than females to sustain injuries
that require medical treatment. Statistics from Alberta, Canada, for the period 1995 to
1999 indicate that the average age of injured males was 23 years, the average age of injured
females was 16, and 45 percent of injury cases occurred on a Saturday.3
As previously discussed, air bags can endanger children and most pickups have no back seat
to safely seat children. Vehicles other than pickups should be used to transport children
whenever possible. In addition, according to a recent Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
study, children transported in the rear seats of extended cab compact pickups run a fivefold greater risk of injury than children riding in other vehicles. Finally, recent compilations of death and injury statistics have highlighted the problem of children being killed or
injured by SUVs, trucks and minivans backing out of driveways. An article in the Orange
County Register on March 24, 2002, documented 14 deaths and nine injuries of this type
in Orange County, Calif., since 1995.
State Laws
Child Occupant Protection
Today, 49 states—New Hampshire is the exception—have seat belt laws. Eighteen states—
Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland,
Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas
and Washington—and the District of Columbia have primary enforcement seat belt laws
that allow police officers to stop a vehicle solely for a seat belt violation. In the remaining
31 states, officers must stop the vehicle for some other traffic offense before they can issue
a citation for a seat belt violation; this is known as a secondary offense. (See appendix B.)
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Occupant Protection
Seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to prevent injuries and deaths from motor
vehicle crashes. In the states that have primary seat belt enforcement laws, seat belt use is,
on average, 17 percentage points higher than in the states that have secondary enforcement
laws. By increasing the national seat belt use rate from its current rate of 68 percent to 90
percent, more than 5,500 lives could be saved and approximately 132,000 injuries could
be prevented, leading to a savings of $8.8 billion each year, according to NHTSA. The
National Safety Council reports that, from 1975 to 1998, seat belts have been credited
with saving an estimated 112,086 lives.
Seat belt laws for the general population also have a bearing on child passenger protection.
A 1996 NHTSA study revealed that, if a driver is wearing a seat belt, 86 percent of the
time toddlers also will be restrained. If the driver is not wearing a seat belt, however, the
restraint rate for toddlers drops to 24 percent.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have some form of child restraint law, and all are
primary enforcement laws. The exceptions are Colorado—where the new booster seat law
for children ages 4 through 5 allows for secondary enforcement—and Nebraska—where
the law is secondary only for children who may use seat belts and standard for those who
must be secured in a child safety seat. Most require the use of child restraint systems by a
certain age group of children. Some safety advocacy groups argue that gaps exist in coverage for the child restraint laws in some states. In some cases, the laws fail to cover children
in all seating positions or the laws may provide an exemption for out-of-state visitors.
Regardless of the current gaps in state laws, 49 percent fewer children died in motor vehicle crashes in 2000, compared to such deaths in 1975. (See appendices C and D for
Child Safety Seat Laws.)
Although the rate of death for children in motor vehicle crashes has declined, thousands of
children still die each year and thousands more are injured. Child safety seats and booster
seats are an effective way to keep child passengers safe. Children are put at greater risk when
they ride unrestrained or improperly restrained in a motor vehicle. NHTSA estimates
that, when child safety seats are used correctly, they reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent for
infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. In 1999, more than 50 percent of all children ages
5 to 9 who were killed in crashes were completely unrestrained.
Booster Seats
Arkansas, California and Washington were the first states to pass laws requiring the use of
booster seats by children who have outgrown their safety seats. The California law requires
children who are age 5 and younger or who weigh less than 60 pounds to ride in a booster
seat. In Washington, children between the ages of 4 and 5 and between 40 pounds and 60
pounds are required to use a booster seat. The law in Arkansas requires children 5 years and
under and less than 60 pounds to ride restrained in a booster seat.
Today, 13 states have some type of booster seat law. Some safety organizations argue that
certain new booster seat laws are not strong enough. In a few states, for example, the law
covers only children up to 40 pounds.
At least 15 states considered similar legislation during the 2002 legislative sessions. Colorado passed a law requiring children between the ages of 4 and 5 to ride restrained in
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
booster seats. The Maine Legislature passed a law to require children who weigh between
40 pounds and 80 pounds and are younger than age 8 to ride in a booster seat.
Air Bag Safety
Delaware is one of the few states to have a law to address the risk of air bags. Specifically,
children under 65 inches and younger than age 12 are required to ride in the back seat of
vehicles that are equipped with passenger air bags. North Carolina and Washington have
similar laws. In North Carolina, children under age 5 who weigh less than 40 pounds must
be seated in a child safety seat in the rear seat if the vehicle has a passenger air bag.
Washington’s new law, effective July 1, 2002, requires children under age 6 who weigh less
than 60 pounds to be seated in a child safety seat in the back seat in vehicles equipped with
passenger air bags. Louisiana, Rhode Island and South Carolina laws require children of a
certain age to ride in the rear seat of any vehicle. Connecticut passed legislation in 2001
that requires children under age 4 to sit in the back seat of motor vehicles that are equipped
with airbags.
Pickup Trucks
Thirty-one states directly address passengers riding in the cargo areas of pickup trucks to
varying degrees through state law. Eight states prohibit people of all ages from riding in
cargo areas with some exceptions. Twenty-one other states prohibit children of varying
ages (from 8 to 18) from riding in a cargo area, also with some exceptions. Exceptions often
include parades, agricultural workers—if the bed is completely enclosed—hunters, and
emergency situations. Child passenger protection laws in virtually all states that require
child safety seats would preclude very young children (generally age 4 and younger) from
riding in the back of pickup trucks. (See appendix E for a detailed state chart.)
Evidence from California shows that laws prohibiting passengers in cargo areas in California prevents deaths: before the law was passed, deaths totaled 57; after it was enacted,
deaths totaled 32. One-third of those killed were 18 or younger. Implementation of the
law was aided by the “Don’t Be Human Cargo” educational campaign. The American
Academy of Pediatrics believes the best way to reduce the number of deaths and injuries to
children in pickup trucks is prohibiting them from riding in the cargo area and requiring
they use age-appropriate restraints inside the cab.
Since 1997, 24 states have considered bills on this topic. In 1998, Tennessee enacted SB
2061, which encourages the Department of Public Safety to educate the public about the
risks of allowing children to ride in the cargo areas of pickup trucks. The next year, the
Tennessee Legislature passed a bill that prohibits children under age 12 from riding in the
back of pickup trucks.
Michigan also passed legislation regulating passenger use of cargo areas of pickup trucks.
According to the law, which went into effect on March 28, 2001, no person under age 18
is permitted to ride in the open bed of a pickup truck that is traveling at speeds higher than
15 miles per hour. The law allows for the use of the open bed by passengers for parades and
farm operations. In 2001, seven states considered 12 bills that would have prohibited
passengers from riding unrestrained in the cargo areas of pickup trucks. None of the bills
passed.
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Occupant Protection
Four bills were considered during the 2002 legislative sessions. An Iowa bill failed to pass
that would have required seat belts in pickup truck cargo areas. In Mississippi, legislation
died in committee that would have prohibited passenger use of pickup truck beds.
Many advocates exist of specific legislation to prohibit passengers riding in pickup truck
cargo areas. One organization is Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which recommends that states enact laws to prohibit all passengers of all ages from riding in the rear
cargo bed of pickup trucks under all circumstances. In a recent report, it states, “Despite
the documented hazards of allowing passengers to ride in cargo areas, only 25 states have
laws prohibiting this dangerous practice. Among these states, most have exceptions that
apply the law only to children under a certain age or only under certain circumstances. In
order to prevent future fatalities as the number of pickup trucks on the road increases,
states must enact laws that prohibit all passengers at all times from riding in the cargo areas
of pickup trucks.”
Other advocates include families of injury victims, safety groups, health professionals and
law enforcement agencies. Included are associations concerned with head injury and traumatic brain injury; pediatricians; medical, nursing and hospital associations; parent-teacher
associations; the National Transportation Safety Board; Mothers Against Drunk Driving;
and the American Automobile Association.
Groups concerned about the negative effects of such laws include agricultural businesses
and associations, hunters, and people whose only means of transportation is a pickup truck.
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
3. PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE SAFETY ISSUES
What Legislators Can Do
Hundreds of children are killed each year and many more are injured
in pedestrian-related crashes. At the same time, childhood obesity
and inactivity are on the rise. To encourage safe pedestrian and
bicycling activities for children, state legislators can evaluate current
laws regarding pedestrians and bicyclists, speed limits in school zones
and other pedestrian areas, and state use of traffic calming techniques
in high-risk areas. Legislators can encourage the use of public
education campaigns regarding child pedestrian and bicycling safety
and safe routes to schools programs. Community groups and other
governmental agencies can partner with state legislators to encourage
safe walking and biking in neighborhoods through safer road and
pedestrian area design.
Background
In 2001, nearly 5,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic
crashes. About 480 of those killed were children between
birth and age 15. These statistics have led many parents
to restrict their children’s pedestrian activities. Such restrictions can effect children’s physical health by causing
them to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. According to data from
the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), childhood obesity had reached a plateau in the 1960s and 1970s, but
increased substantially during the 1980s and 1990s. In
fact, the percentage of children who are overweight has
more than doubled in the last 30 years.
Health advocates believe that one way to help remedy this epidemic is to encourage biking
and walking in childhood. By making streets safer, parents may be more inclined to send
their children to school on foot or encourage after-school activities such as biking and inline skating.
Most states have passed legislation to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety. These laws,
which establish rules of the road for motorists when they encounter pedestrians or bicyclists and apply to people of all ages. Some states have passed laws that increase penalties
for failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, while others have enacted laws requiring
state departments of transportation to improve sidewalk conditions.
International Walk to School Day
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2001, countries around the world helped celebrate the second International Walk to School Day. National Walk
to School Day originated in 1997; school children from Chicago
and Los Angeles participated. By last year, walkers in 49 states were
part of the 3 million walkers around the world who celebrated Walk
to School Day. The goal is to increase awareness of pedestrian safety
and to help identify safe walkways to school.
The risk for children comes from drivers who speed through
school zones and neighborhoods where many children live.
Most child pedestrian injuries and deaths occur when the
child darts out from between two parked cars into the
middle of the street. These situations account for nearly
one-third of all child pedestrian-related crashes.
Education is a useful tool to help keep child pedestrians
and bicyclists safe. Children need to be educated about the
safest way to cross the street, bicycle helmet use and safe places to play outside. Other ways
to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety for everyone are through the use of traffic calming in
neighborhoods that have high volume traffic and by strict enforcement of speeding laws.
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Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Issues
Walking to School Safely
Hundreds of pedestrians between the age of 5 and 18 are killed each year during “normal
school transportation hours.” In order to increase safe bicycling and walking as a way to get
to school, many communities are turning to “Safe Routes to Schools” programs. Under
these programs, parents, teachers, students, state and local governments, and law enforcement agencies work together to identify pedestrian routes to schools and to improve the
safety and usability of the routes.
As recently as 30 years ago, more than 60 percent of students walked and biked to school.1
Today, research indicates that fewer than 10 percent of students are walking and biking to
school. Some believe that safety is the main reason that many parents choose to drive their
kids to and from school. Safe Routes to Schools programs assess current pedestrian conditions, then make changes to increase safety in the area; this results in increased walking and
biking. The programs take a comprehensive approach by examining current traffic laws,
speed limits, law enforcement, and education programs that are geared toward traffic safety.
Safe Routes to Schools proponents believe three key factors can make streets safer for students.
First, engineering techniques can be used to slow down traffic. Engineering design tools like
traffic calming can be used to slow the speed of motor vehicles and increase safety through the
use of speed humps and roundabouts. Traffic calming not only can slow traffic, but it also can
help because redesigned roadways can include walkways and bike paths.
The second factor is through enforcement. Law enforcement resources are used to aggressively enforce traffic violations and increase awareness about pedestrian issues in the area
surrounding the school. Speed limit signs also can be used as a visual and regulatory
reminder to motorists traveling through school zones.
Finally, educational programs can be used to help inform motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists about their respective rights and responsibilities. These programs can be taught in
school and can be used to not only teach safety but also to promote walking and biking.
Childhood Bicycling Safety
According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, “Bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than
any other consumer product except the automobile.” The
rate of bicycle-related injuries is highest for children between the ages of 5 and 15. Bicycle deaths per 1 million
people are highest among 13-year-olds.2 Every year, almost 400,000 children under age 14 are treated in emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries.3 Head injuries,
the leading cause of death in bicycle crashes, account for
60 percent of the fatalities.
Colorado Senator Proposes Child Helmet Safety Act
A Colorado bill considered during the 2002 state legislative session
would have made it a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, subject to
a $15 fine, for a parent or guardian of a child under age 14 to
knowingly allow a child to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle
without a helmet.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Ed Perlmutter, passed out of committee but was defeated on the Senate floor.
Bicycle safety can be addressed in several ways. Education programs teach riders about
safety. Improved road designs and bicycle paths can help motorists and bicyclists safely
share the roads, and protective clothing and equipment can reduce some kinds of injuries.
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
In July 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway
Administration and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control convened a
bicycle safety summit. Representatives of diverse public and private organizations and
agencies attended to help develop a national bicycle safety agenda. The goals adopted
include the following.
Goal 1: Motorists Will Share the Road
•
Create a coordinated “Share the Road” public education campaign that can be adapted
at the state and local levels.
•
Amend the motor vehicle code to give precedence to bicyclists in the absence of overriding traffic rules.
•
Include components on safe bicycling and sharing the road in driver education programs.
Goal 2: Bicyclists Will Ride Safely
•
Create a national “Ride Safely” marketing campaign targeting bicycle riders.
•
Encourage statewide bicycle safety conferences to promote the National Strategies for
Advancing Bicycle Safety.
•
Expand school-based and community-based programs that teach bicycle safety to children and adults.
•
Educate community professionals on effective ways to promote safe bicycling.
•
Motivate decision-makers at all levels to adopt policies that promote safe bicycling.
Goal 3: Bicyclists Will Wear Helmets
•
Create a national bicycle helmet safety campaign.
•
Create tools to promote and increase bicycle helmet use that can be adapted for use at
the state and local levels.
•
Assist states and communities that decide to address bicycle helmet use through state
and local laws and enforcement.
Goal 4: The Legal System Will Support Safe Bicycling
•
Improve the collection and quality of data concerning bicycle crash incidents, including both traffic and non-traffic sites.
•
Create tools that help law enforcement officers enforce bicycle safety traffic laws aimed
at bicyclists and motorists.
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Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Issues
•
Promote the most promising enforcement efforts at those local sites where they are
most likely to be effective.
•
Encourage the court system to follow through on bicycle safety enforcement by imposing meaningful penalties for both motorist and bicyclist violations.
Goal 5: Roads and Paths Will Safely Accommodate Bicyclists
•
Document and evaluate the safety and effectiveness of facility design options.
•
Improve 100,000 miles of existing streets and roadways to accommodate bicycle travel.
•
Train professionals responsible for the planning, design, and operation of the transportation system to better consider and accommodate bicycle travel.
Conference participants were not able to agree on the inclusion of a
strategy that promoted mandatory helmet laws for bicyclists. Proponents of the law argued it was the best way to promote helmet
use. Opponents indicated that such requirements interfere with
personal freedoms, exaggerate the dangers of cycling and reduce ridership. Participants in the summit and other bicycle groups will
now try to implement the goals and strategies from the conference.
Bicycle-Related Head Injuries
Bicycle-related head injuries account for about:
Bicycle Helmets
Source: National Bicycle Safety Network, 2002.
•
•
•
•
•
500 deaths per year,
17,000 hospitalizations,
153,000 emergency room visits,
Two-thirds of bicycle related deaths, and
One-third of bicycle-related injuries.
Wearing a helmet is one of the most effective ways to protect a rider from the risk of
traumatic brain or head injury. Non-helmeted riders are 14 times more likely to be in a
fatal crash than those wearing a helmet. Helmets are 85 to 88 percent effective in reducing
head and brain injuries in all types of bicycle incidents. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all cyclists wear properly fitting helmets and those children riding as
passengers also wear helmets.
Despite the fact that the majority of all fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries, less than
one-fourth of riders wear protective headgear. Some of the reasons for not wearing helmets
include lack of social acceptance and a belief they are too hot in the summer.
A number of studies have examined the effectiveness of bicycle helmets in reducing head injuries. Researchers in Seattle found that
bicycle safety helmets provide substantial protection against head
injuries for cyclists of all ages. They included more than 3,000 cyclists who had been treated for injuries in hospital emergency rooms.
This study found that wearing helmets reduced the risk of head
injury by 69 percent to 74 percent. The study also compared the
effectiveness of different kinds of helmets—those with a hard shell, a
thin shell and no shell. No significant differences were found in the
protective effect of the different helmets.
•
•
•
•
•
Bicycle Safety Tips from the
National SAFE KIDS Campaign
Always wear a bicycle helmet.
Wear the helmet correctly and always buckle the
straps.
Buy a helmet that meets or exceeds safety standards.
Learn the rules of the road and obey all traffic laws.
Until a child is age 10 and able to show how well
he or she rides and observes the rules of the road,
cycling should be restricted to sidewalks and paths.
Compulsory helmet laws have been shown to increase helmet use
and decrease bicycle injuries. In New York, the annual rate of cyclists hospitalized from
bicycle-related traumatic brain injuries in the under age 14 group fell from 464 in 1990 to
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
209 in 1995 after a helmet use law was adopted for that age group. After New Jersey
enacted a helmet law for those age 14 and under, bicycle-related fatalities for that group fell
by 60 percent. After the helmet use law passed in Victoria, Australia, injuries decreased by
48 percent, and usage rates increased to 80 percent.
A study in Maryland compared the effect of legislation—as opposed to education—on the
rate of helmet use. The researchers compared the approach of three different Maryland
counties: Howard County, which mandated helmet use for children; Montgomery County,
which launched a helmet education campaign; and Baltimore County, which took no action. The helmet use rates dropped in Baltimore during the time of the study.
Segway Scooters
During the 2002 state legislative sessions, several states considered
legislation to allow the operation of Segway scooters on pedestrian
walkways and bike paths. The Segway Human Transporter can travel
at speeds up to 12 miles per hour. The transporters, which use
technology to imitate human balance and movement, are designed
to travel along sidewalks and other pedestrian areas. Therein lies the
problem; to protect the safety of pedestrians, many state and local
laws ban the use of motorized vehicles and scooters on sidewalks.
At least 25 states have passed legislation that defines Segways as an
“electric personal assistive mobility device” and provide an exemption for these devices from existing laws. Traffic safety advocates
argue that not enough is known about these new transportation
devices. Some feel that legislation is being introduced and passed
without any data or research on the safety effects. Many traffic safety
advocates believe the Segway has potential, but that legislators should
carefully examine its use and develop proposals that encourage
Segway use in safe and appropriate settings. Although legislation is
being considered in several states, Segways will not be available for
purchase by the public until late 2002. They will cost $3,000.
In Howard County, the helmet use rate was 4 percent
before the ordinance. The law, adopted on July 30, 1990,
became effective in October 1990. Police lectured in
schools about the impending change in the law. After it
went into effect, bicycle helmet use increased to 47 percent.
Montgomery County initiated an intensive education campaign that included helmet promotion messages, public
service announcements, bicycle safety rodeos and promotions at the county fair, and other events. Although helmet use increased to 19 percent, this is considerably lower
than the rate achieved under legislation. The Montgomery County council subsequently passed a helmet bill in
1991, and in 1995, Maryland adopted a helmet requirement for those under age 16.
Scooter Safety
When lightweight, foot-propelled scooters came on the
market a few years ago, their popularity exploded. With
that popularity came a remarkable increase in injuries, however; scooter injuries now exceed in-line skating injuries.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 40,500 scooter-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms in 2000. About 85 percent of those injuries have been to children under age 15. Five deaths have been reported. Most of the
injuries occurred when riders fell from the scooter. Fractures and dislocations to arms and
hands were common.
State Laws
Walking to School Safely
Funding is an issue for successful Safe Routes to Schools programs. In 1999, the California
Legislature passed a bill that provided $20 million per year for a three-year pilot project
designed to implement Safe Routes to Schools programs throughout the state. In the fall
of 2001, California Governor Gray Davis signed a bill that extends the pilot program
through 2004. The program dedicates $20 million to $25 million each year from federal
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Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Issues
transportation safety funds for local bicycle and pedestrian safety projects.4 Examples of projects eligible for
this funding include construction of new sidewalks, additions of crosswalks, construction of walk paths and bike
paths, and development of programs designed to slow
down cars in school zones.
•
•
•
•
•
Consumer Product Safety Commission Recommendations
Wear helmets, kneepads and elbow pads. (Wrist guards may
make it difficult to grip the handle and steer the scooter.)
Children under age 8 should not use scooters without close
adult supervision.
Avoid gravel and uneven pavement, which can cause falls.
Don’t ride scooters in traffic.
Don’t ride scooters at night; riders can’t see where they’re going
or be seen by others.
The funding source for the California Safe Routes to
School program is the federal TEA-21 law. The funds are
apportioned to the state of California through the Hazard Elimination/Safety (HES) Program, which provides local governments with direct access to the funds. A few state legislatures have followed in California’s footsteps and have
introduced similar legislation. Each year, more states propose laws regarding these programs.
Bicycling and Scooters
Many local jurisdictions have imposed helmet requirements, which are directed mainly at
children (table 2). Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws regarding bicycle helmet use. These laws, a relatively new phenomenon, began in the early
1990s. They target young riders, usually those age 16 and younger. Rhode Island and
Tennessee amended their helmet laws in 1998 to increase the age to under 16, rather than
age 9 and age 12, respectively. The American Academy of Pediatrics has proposed a model
law to require the use of certain safety equipment by children when on bicycles.5
Table 2. State Bicycle Mandatory Helmet Use Laws
State/
Jurisdiction
Alabama
California
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Age at Which Helmets
Must be Used
Under 16
Under 18
Under 16
Under 16
Under 16
Under 16
Under 16
Under 12
Under 16
Under 16
State/
Jurisdiction
Massachusetts
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Tennessee
West Virginia
District of
Columbia
Age at Which Helmets
Must be Used
Under 13
Under 14
Under 14
Under 16
Under 16
Under 12
Under 16
Under 16
Under 15
Under 16
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, NCSL and Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, 2002.
Many state legislatures have been quick to respond to scooter safety concerns. For example,
several states have considered bills to address scooter injury problems. In most cases, the
bills require the use of safety equipment such as helmets or protective pads. Maryland
passed a law that requires individuals under age 16 riding on roads or pedestrian ways to
wear helmets, which must meet or exceed certain safety standards. A new Maine law
requires scooter riders to ride on the right side of the road.
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
4. GETTING TO SCHOOL SAFELY ON THE BUS
What Legislators Can Do
School bus travel is one of the safest forms of transportation. State
legislators, safety organizations and the federal government continue
to work to ensure it remains that way. State legislators can evaluate
current state laws regarding school bus safety, including vehicle safety
standards, licensing of school bus drivers, and the use of passenger
vans to transport children to and from school. Legislators can
familiarize themselves with federal regulations regarding school buses
and strengthen them at the state level if they choose.
Through partnerships with communities and other organizations,
state legislators can encourage public education campaigns used to
inform children and parents about the safest way to approach and
board a school bus. Legislators can encourage strict enforcement of
passing laws and speed limits.
Background
Every week during the school year, 23.5 million children
begin and end each day with a trip on a school bus. More
than 400,000 school buses travel approximately 4.3 billion miles every year. Between 1989 and 1999, an average
of 10 passengers were killed each year in school bus crashes.
In comparison, during 2000 alone, motor vehicle crashes
claimed the lives of approximately 2,197 children between
the ages of 5 and 14.1
These statistics indicate that school buses are very safe.
Because of the importance of school bus transportation,
NHTSA has established several safety standards to maintain this high level of safety. Based on data from school
bus crashes and crash testing, NHTSA is able to determine what types of school bus safety standards are necessary. Specifically, NHTSA has
prepared safety standards focusing on the human, vehicle and environmental variables that
affect the level of safety associated with school bus transportation.
Although NHTSA and several other safety organizations acknowledge that school bus transportation is virtually the safest transportation mode in the United States, these organizations remain committed to enhancing school bus safety. This commitment requires these
organizations to continue the learning process and determine methods of making this safe
form of transportation even safer.
Federal Action
In 1974, Congress amended the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act to
include school bus safety requirements. Today, NHTSA has 35 federal motor vehicle safety
standards that apply to school buses. These standards require that school buses be structurally and mechanically safe. They not only apply to the structural and equipment safety of
the bus, but also to occupant and pedestrian safety. NHTSA also makes determinations
regarding school bus recalls for mechanical and safety problems.
The safety standards require pedestrian safety devices (stop arms), rollover protection, body
joint strength, and passenger seating and crash protection on school buses. Other school
20
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Getting to School Safely on the Bus
bus standards relate to brake systems, lighting to indicate loading and unloading of the
bus, mirror systems, emergency exits and fuel systems (both gasoline and natural gas).
Through this system of safety standards, NHTSA has been able to monitor and ensure that
school buses maintain high levels of safety.
School buses are required to have stop arms that signal passing motorists to stop while the
school bus is dropping off or picking up students. The stop arms may be equipped with
strobe lights to increase visibility. The primary goal of this safety standard is to increase the
level of safety in the area around the school bus and to reduce the risk of injury and death
associated with children being hit by passing motorists. In addition to the stop arms,
NHTSA requires that buses be equipped with mirrors that allow the driver to see areas in
front of and along both sides of the bus to decrease the likelihood of an unseen child being
hit by the school bus.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 96 percent of the estimated 8,500 to 12,000 children injured in school bus crashes usually are considered minor injuries—bumps, bruises and scrapes. Most injuries and fatalities involving school
buses are pedestrian crashes that occur while the students are getting on and off the school
bus.
The area surrounding the bus at loading and unloading areas is often referred to as the
“danger zone,” because it is the area where children are at the greatest risk of being hit by
the school bus or by a passing car. Every year, on average, 19 children are killed while
loading and unloading around school buses. In most cases, the child is waiting to board the
bus or has just gotten off and is struck by the bus or a passing motorist. Since bus drivers
may have several blind spots, they are not always able to see students walking in front of or
behind the bus. According to NHTSA, there are three times as many pedestrian fatalities
as school bus occupant fatalities.
In an effort to reduce child fatalities in the “danger zone,” NHTSA has identified three
areas of focus. First, it is important to educate children about the “danger zone” and instruct them about how to safely get on and off the bus. Next, school bus drivers must be
trained in the necessary safety skills. Finally, motorists must be taught safe driving practices
near a school or school bus.
To educate children, school bus drivers and other motorists, NHTSA has established partnerships with other safety organizations. In the mid-1970s (and updated in the late 1980s),
NHTSA produced and distributed an educational program focusing on the most frequent
type of pedestrian crash children are involved in: darting into the street without stopping
first and looking for oncoming traffic.
In addition to pedestrian safety, NHTSA has established guidelines and standards to protect children while they are riding on school buses. The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration requires “compartmentalization” in school buses to provide crash protection; this is a protective pocket consisting of closely-spaced seats with energy-absorbing
seat backs. The NTSB and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) have confirmed the
effectiveness of compartmentalization in frontal and rear impact studies. However, after
several investigations of school bus crashes in the late 1990s, the NTSB found that compartmentalization does not provide adequate protection during side impacts. NTSB be-
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
lieves that new seating systems need to be developed that provide occupant protection for
all types of crashes. NHTSA is researching new school bus seating systems.
Occupant Protection on School Buses
Debate continues about whether seat belts should be installed on school buses. Seat belts
provide excellent protection in other types of motor vehicle crashes; however, the effectiveness of seat belt use on school buses is unknown. The types of seat belts that would be
installed on school buses are not the same as those installed in motor vehicles. Currently,
only lap belts can be installed on school buses. The lap belt or two-point belt fastens across
the child’s lower abdomen. Studies have concluded that lap belts may cause injuries to
children.
Injuries caused by the two-point belt have been attributed to what is referred to as the “seat
belt syndrome.” This syndrome can, in the event of a crash, cause contusion to the abdominal wall, intra-abdominal bleeding and fracture of the lumbar spine. Three-point shoulder
belts can cause the same injuries as two-point belts; however, they also protect the lumbar
spine. The studies from which these conclusions were drawn were specific to motor vehicles, not to school buses.
According to a study conducted by the NTSB, occupants who were restrained within the
seating compartment benefited from compartmentalization, while those not restrained in
the compartment, came into contact with surfaces within the bus that are not designed to
absorb energy. Injuries could be decreased if an occupant protection system were used to
restrain passengers within the seating compartment and if hard surfaces within the bus—
sidewalls, window frames and seat frames—were padded to offer protection. When occupants are seated in the impact area, they can be seriously or fatally injured.2 The NTSB
found that seat belts could not prevent these injuries.
The national statistics on school bus transportation indicate that it is the safest method of
transportation in the United States. The difficulty in assessing whether seat belts would
provide protection to children in school bus crashes is that very little data exist. The number
of school bus crashes is minimal and such crashes usually result in no serious injuries. To date,
no school bus crash that involved children who were wearing seat belts resulted in serious
injuries, according to the NTSB. For this reason, data needs to be developed to determine the
effects of these belts on children involved in a school bus crash. Some states have passed
resolutions or created study committees to examine overall school bus safety in their states.
Some cost-benefit analysis on this issue has shown that installing seat belts on school buses is
not cost-effective. The Partnership for Prevention published a report in 2001 to help state
legislators understand the purpose and uses of cost-effectiveness analysis. According to this
group, interventions costing no more than $25,000 to $75,000 per quality-adjusted life
years saved or per life year saved are considered to be cost effective.3 Quality-adjusted life is a
measure that adjusts years of life based on quality. The cost per life year saved for installing
seat belts on school buses is estimated to be almost $3 million, which is not cost effective,
according to the Partnership for Prevention guideline.
In May 2002, NHTSA released The Report to Congress School Bus Crashworthiness Research
Report. This is the most comprehensive study on various concepts for improving passenger
crash protection since the early 1970s.
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Getting to School Safely on the Bus
The Report found that lap belts alone have little, if any, effect on reducing school bus crash
fatalities and that three-point lap/shoulder belts, if used properly, might have saved one life
per year, but could cost as much as $100 million annually. School buses would have to be
redesigned to allow for lap/shoulder belt restraint systems. This would diminish the bus
carrying capacity by 17 percent, which could result in longer bus commutes and higher
costs for parents and also cause some parents to use private vehicles rather than school buses
to transport their children to and from school. The unintended consequence would be to
shift children from the safest form of school transportation—a school bus—to a less safe
option.
The research showed that the current method of compartmentalization is extremely safe,
but it did point out some areas for possible improvement. NHTSA is considering making
the following changes to the motor vehicles safety standards that govern school buses.
•
Require mandatory lap/shoulder belts in small school buses, which are more similar to
passenger vehicles than large school buses;
•
Increase the seat back heights to 24 inches on all school buses;
•
Develop performance requirements for optional installation of lap/shoulder belts in
large school buses.
Another major school transportation study released in June 2002 complemented and supported the results of the Report. This study, The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National
Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment, looked at each major mode
used for school travel to determine comparable risks.
The report, by the Transportation Research Board of the National Research Council, confirmed that school buses are, by far, the safest form of school transportation. Each year,
approximately 800 children are killed in motor vehicle crashes during school commutes.
Of those, on average, five are school bus passengers and 15 are killed getting on or off the
bus. By contrast, 617 are killed in passenger vehicle crashes. The remainder of the fatalities are pedestrian- or bicycle-related.
The report found that an alarming number of the passenger vehicle crashes were caused by
teen drivers. In fact, teen drivers are greatly over-represented in these crashes. Although
they account for only 14 percent of all school trips, they are involved in 55 percent of traffic
deaths.
To help communities identify steps that could be taken to reduce the risks particular to their
school transportation systems, the Relative Risks study also developed a risk-management
framework. It includes checklists of risk mitigation options to provide a framework within
which communities can undertake a systematic evaluation of school travel alternatives.
Transporting Preschool Age Children
Although government agencies currently do not recommend the use of seat belts on school
buses, they do believe restraints should be used for smaller children. The use of school
buses to transport preschool-age children is increasing. The Head Start Bureau has issued a
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Final Rule that will require its Head Start centers to use school buses by 2006. This could
affect approximately 500,000 preschoolers.
School bus compartmentalization, designed for children in grades K-12, does not provide
adequate occupant protection for preschool-age children, according to NHTSA. In 1999,
NHTSA issued a Guideline for the Safe Transportation of Pre-School Age Children in School
Buses, which recommends that preschool-age children be secured in child passenger restraints that are age, height and weight appropriate.
Use of 15-Passenger Vans for Pupil Transportation
Another issue facing school bus transportation is the use of passenger vans to transport
students to and from school and school activities. Although leasing such vans can reduce
transportation costs to the school districts, they are not as safe as school buses. Any vehicle
used to transport children to and from school and school-related activities is required to
meet the same federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) as traditional school buses.
Fifteen-passenger vans are not required to meet the same FMVSS as school buses. NHTSA
research has shown that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases dramatically as
the number of occupants increases from fewer than five to more than 10. The rollover rate
of 15-passenger vans with 10 or more in single vehicle crashes was nearly three times the
rate of those that were lightly loaded. Fifteen-passenger vans do not have the same occupant protection standards as school buses, nor are they built to the same crashworthy
standards. NTSB has recommended that states prohibit the use of 15-passenger vans for
student transportation.
Federal law prohibits the sale of new 15-passenger vans for transporting high school age
and younger children to and from school or school-related activities. No such prohibition
exists for the sale of used vehicles or for vehicles used to transport college students or other
passengers.
Licensing School Bus Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has developed regulations for states that
issue commercial driver’s licenses (CDL). The regulations include standards for licensing
school bus drivers and help ensure that the drivers of school buses are qualified. In most
states, strict standards are in place that go beyond the federal CDL requirements that
regulate the licensing of school bus drivers. States are able to strengthen this program by
requiring specific training, conducting background checks and fingerprinting individuals
who apply for a license. In Hawaii, for example, school
bus drivers cannot have any felony convictions in the past
NHTSA Plans to Update
five years or misdemeanor convictions in the last three years.
School Bus Driver Training Program
NHTSA released the School Bus Driver Instructional Program in
1974. Since then, many states have used the program to instruct
school bus drivers. NHTSA acknowledges that the program is outof-date, however, and has agreed to update it. Once updated, the
program will supplement current commercial driver’s license (CDL)
requirements and provide all school bus drivers with instruction on
transporting children safely.
In many states, individuals who apply for a CDL to operate a school bus are required to attend training through
that state’s department of education. In Alabama, drivers
must complete a 12-hour training program presented by
the Department of Education. School bus drivers in Michigan must complete a school bus safety course and pass a
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Getting to School Safely on the Bus
physical exam each year. In Rhode Island, bus drivers must take at least 10 hours of training, and West Virginia school bus drivers are required to pass the 30-hour West Virginia
School Bus Operator Program.
Safe Routing of School Buses
States also have recognized the importance of safely routing school buses. By thoughtfully
developing the safest route for school buses and establishing the safest places for students to
meet the bus, states are decreasing hazards. The National Association of State Directors for
Pupil Transportation Services has released a report designed to assist school transportation
officials to establish safe routes and stops.
States also have identified the risk associated with motorists who illegally pass school buses. Education campaigns
have been geared toward decreasing the number of motorists who ignore the stop arm and pass buses illegally.
Some states have passed laws in the last few years to increase penalties for motorists who are convicted of illegally passing a school bus.
New Technology to Reduce Illegal Passing of School Buses
According to NHTSA, some states report that motorists illegally pass
stopped school buses approximately 10,000 times each day. One
way to help solve this problem is through increased enforcement. In
October 2000, NHTSA awarded a project to develop a system designed to detect and photograph motor vehicles that illegally pass
school buses. A prototype device has been developed for field testing
and a final report is due in 2002.
School buses transport the nation’s most precious cargo—
children. Because of this tremendous responsibility, school buses must be held to the highest level of safety. NHTSA has instituted several safety standards and regulations to ensure
that school buses provide higher levels of safety than other passenger vehicles. In addition,
NHTSA has recognized the importance of training school bus drivers regarding the dangers associated with the loading and unloading area around the bus and with safe crossing
at highway-rail grade crossings.
State Laws
Although no federal requirement is in place regarding the use of seat belts on large school
buses, state legislatures can, if they wish, require their use and installation. Each year,
several states introduce legislation to require seat belts on school buses. New York and New
Jersey were the first states to pass such laws. The New York law requires that seat belts be
installed on school buses, but not that they be worn. A survey conducted in 1997 by the
New York Department of Education found that 44 of the
Legislator Proposes Legislation to Track School Buses
states’ 709 public school districts require pupils to wear
After
a
Pennsylvania school bus driver kidnapped 13 children in
seat belts. In New Jersey, the law provides that seat belts
January 2002, Pennsylvania state Senator Michael O’Pake introbe installed on school buses and that passengers wear
duced legislation that would require the installation of satellite trackthem.
ing devices on school buses. “There is no excuse for failing to provide
California, Florida and Louisiana are the most recent states
to pass laws requiring the installation of seat belts on
school buses. All three states passed laws during the 1999
legislative session. California requires that combination
pelvic and upper torso passenger belts be installed on all
school buses manufactured after Jan. 1, 2002. The Louisiana law requires that occupant restraint systems be installed on every school bus no later than June 30, 2004.
the security that modern technology allows,” said O’Pake. ‘With
satellite-tracking devices, operators and school officials can know almost instantly the exact location of school buses in case of any emergency. We owe children, their parents and their families that security.” The location of the school bus in question was unknown for
more than six hours. O’Pake’s bill not only requires all school buses
to be equipped with tracking devices but also requires school buses
to have rooftop markings that permit them to be identified from the
air. According to Senator O’Pake’s office, school buses can be fitted
with tracking systems for less than $1,000.
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
In Florida, seat belts must be installed on school buses leased or purchased after Dec. 31,
2000.
Some state legislatures have addressed other safety issues relating to school buses. Most are
related to the safety of the school bus itself. Examples include strobe-warning lights and
sensors designed to detect children in the danger zone surrounding the bus. In North
Carolina, bus monitors ride on the school bus to increase safety. These monitors allow the
bus driver to concentrate on driving, while the monitors watch the children as they get on
and off the bus and while they are riding on the bus. Other states have installed video
cameras on school buses to monitor students’ behavior. Some states have developed safety
training programs to educate students and parents about how to avoid crashes while getting on and off the school bus. Indiana and South Carolina have passed legislation prohibiting the use of 15-passenger vans for student transportation, and Maryland and Virginia
considered similar bills in 2002.
Many states have enacted legislation that provides for requirements in addition to the
federal guidelines for school bus safety. Several states have added provisions to school bus
driver licensing. Other state laws target motorists at school bus stops and in school zones.
Some states require noise-reduction switches to be used by a driver stopped at a grade
crossing so that a train’s horn can be heard.
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Child Endangerment and Drunk Driving
5. CHILD ENDANGERMENT AND
DRUNK DRIVING
Background
The safety of child passengers is affected by several factors,
including the sobriety of the driver behind the wheel of
the vehicle in which they ride. On average, more than
500 children are killed annually in alcohol-related traffic
crashes. That is more than twice the number who die from
unintentional firearm injuries each year.1
What Legislators Can Do
More than 500 children are killed each year in alcohol-related motor
vehicle crashes. State legislatures play an active role in reducing fatalities and injuries associated with drunk driving crashes. State legislators can continue to evaluate current state laws regarding drunk driving and those specific to child endangerment. If state laws regarding
drunk driving and child endangerment are strong, fewer children
will be forced to ride in a car with a drunk driver. State legislators can
team with organizations within their communities to help educate
and inform the public.
Between 1985 and 1996, more than 5,500 child passengers died as a result of alcohol-related traffic crashes. In 64
percent of those deaths, the child was riding as a passenger with the drunk driver, and
almost two-thirds of those fatalities involved a parent-aged driver rather than an older
driver such as a grandparent or a peer-aged driver, according to a study conducted by
researchers at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.2
Although the majority of all drunk driving crashes occur between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00
a.m., a joint study by the Ford Motor Company and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that, for child fatalities with a drinking driver involved, the
highest percentage of deaths occurred between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., during afterschool commutes and early evening activities.
Although parent-aged drivers account for most child passenger fatalities, peer-aged drivers
are involved in a disproportionate number of crashes. Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) indicated that peer-aged drivers are more likely than parent-aged
drivers to be involved in alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving passengers ages 14 and
15. In fact, drivers age 21 and under, who are under the legal drinking age in every state,
accounted for more than 30 percent of alcohol-related passenger deaths among children.
Alcohol traffic fatalities have declined 25 percent since 1990, but the percentage of child
passenger deaths has not decreased as significantly as overall drunk driving deaths. According to a recent study by the University of North Carolina, the percentage of alcohol involvement for child fatalities has actually increased at times for specific age groups (table
3). The study also notes that drunk drivers who had children in the vehicle at the time of
their offense were more likely to have previous drunk driving convictions or prior driver’s
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28
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
license suspensions. Further compounding an already risky situation, a drunk driver is less
likely to use seatbelts or child restraints to protect the occupants of the vehicle. The study
found that the more intoxicated the driver is, the less likely he or she to buckle up child
passengers, and, unfortunately, the more intoxicated the driver, the more likely a crash will
occur.3
Table 3: Child Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities, 1994-2000
Year
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
Totals
Ages 0-5
682
620
656
604
575
557
539
4,233
Ages 5-9
441
470
454
479
518
507
484
3,353
Ages 10–14
693
718
707
713
683
664
645
4,823
Total Deaths
1,816
1,808
1,817
1,796
1,776
1,728
1,668
12,409
Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, 2002.
Drunk driving deaths are once again increasing, up 4 percent from 1999 to 2000. That
represents the highest rate of increase in alcohol-related fatalities since the federal government began keeping such statistics in 1975. It does not bode well for the safety of children
who may find themselves at increased risk of riding with a drunk driver, even with a parentaged driver.
Combating the problem is a matter of both public policy and education. Although state
lawmakers are strengthening laws to provide greater protection for children, a need exists
for greater public awareness of the issue. Many parents have long been cautious about
allowing their children to ride with younger, less experienced drivers, but seem to have
greater confidence in allowing their children to ride with other adult drivers. That confidence might be misplaced, as evidenced by the astonishing statistics that, of the more than
550 children who die each year in drunk driving crashes, almost two-thirds of them were
riding with the drunk driver and, in two-thirds of those cases, the drunk driver was an
adult who was responsible for their safety.
Parents will want to ensure that any person who is driving their child is not only a safe
driver but also a sober driver. Equally, kids need to know how to protect themselves as
passengers. To help children think about their safety when they are passengers, MADD
and General Motors have teamed up with a school-based education program called Protecting You/Protecting Me. The curriculum includes “Ten Rules for Riding” that will help children practice safe behavior as passengers and give them confidence to avoid riding with
someone when they feel at risk.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) examined alcohol use by
drivers involved in crashes in which children died, assessed by age and sex of the child and
driver and type of crash. Although the overall percentage of alcohol-related motor vehicle
deaths for children declined between 1991 and 1996, experiences for passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists differ. Selected characteristics of children and drivers that elevate the risk
of an alcohol-related motor vehicle death point to the need for further policy and clinical
interventions.
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Child Endangerment and Drunk Driving
Another study in JAMA examined characteristics of crashes involving child passenger deaths
and injuries associated with drinking drivers to identify opportunities for prevention. The
data indicate that the majority of drinking driver–related child passenger deaths in the
United States involve a child riding unrestrained in the same vehicle with a drinking driver.
Typically, the drinking driver who is transporting the child is old enough to be the child’s
parent or caregiver.
Ford Motor Company and the University of Michigan joined
that killed or injured child passengers. The study focused on
driver groups who commonly transport children to develop a conceptual driver rating approach in order to assist
parents to make informed decisions about drivers who
transport their children.
A laboratory study conducted by NHTSA examined the
effects of alcohol on driving skills at blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of 0.00 percent to 0.10 percent in a sample
of 168 subjects assigned to age, gender and drinking practices groups. The study was designed to determine the
BACs at which impairment of specific experimental tasks
occur and the interaction of age, gender and drinking practices with BAC on the magnitude of impairment.
State Laws
State lawmakers have taken seriously the potential harm
children face when they ride with a drunk driver. Since
the early 1990s, at least 27 states have passed laws to expand protection for children and punish those drunk drivers who would put them at risk (see appendix F).
to study light vehicle crashes
the safety records of specific
Protecting You/Protecting Me
Protecting You/Protecting Me is a science-based alcohol use prevention
curriculum for students in grades one through five. Sponsored by
Mothers Against Drunk Driving and General Motors, the goal of
the curriculum is to prevent injury and death of children and youth
due to underage consumption of alcoholic beverages and from vehicle-related risks, especially as passengers in vehicles in which the
driver is not alcohol-free.
Based on the latest brain research, students learn about the role and
importance of the brain, brain growth and development, the dangers of alcohol exposure to the developing brain, and the importance
of protecting themselves by making good decisions.
The curriculum also teaches children safety skills, including how to
refuse a ride from an unsafe driver and how to reduce the risks
associated with riding with a driver who is not alcohol-free. The
course includes Ten Rules for Safe Riding, designed to help children
stay safe in vehicles, whether they are riding with their parents, other
kids’ parents, with peer drivers or in carpools.
Lessons are designed to be infused into a school’s core curriculum
and are taught by trained school personnel, high school students in
a structured program, or volunteers. For more information about
Protecting You/Protecting Me, contact your state MADD chapter or
visit the national MADD Web site at http://www.madd.org.
The approach most states have taken is to increase the penalties for drunk driving with a child in the vehicle. At least
21 states have added more stringent penalties if the basic
drunk driving offense occurred with a child present. From
significantly higher fines and longer mandatory jail sentences to longer license suspensions
and felony convictions, penalties for drunk drivers who endanger children with the offense are
double the penalties that would have been imposed had the children been left at home.
Under the laws passed in most of these states, the child need not suffer physical harm for the
stiffer penalties to apply.
At least four states have adopted laws making it a separate offense to have a child present in
the vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. In creating separate offenses, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho and Ohio have followed the trend of creating
aggravated drunk driving offenses where there are special circumstances, such as a particularly high level of intoxication or endangerment to a child. The child need not be injured or
killed for the driver to be charged with the aggravated offense; the mere presence of a child
in the vehicle at the time of the offense is sufficient to warrant the elevated charge.
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Although enhanced penalties or separate drunk driving offenses are the more common
approaches to addressing the problem, two states have used existing child abuse and neglect statutes to cover drunk driving with a child in the vehicle. In Colorado, a person is
guilty of child abuse if he or she knowingly or recklessly commits an act that injures or kills
a child. Colorado case law has supported that the child abuse statute applies to drunk
driving, regardless of whether the child is in the car being driven by the drunk driver or is
a passenger in another vehicle involved in a collision with the drunk driver. Iowa has a
similar law, in that an adult can be charged with child neglect for recklessly exposing a
child to danger by driving in an intoxicated condition with a child in the vehicle. As in
Colorado, the Iowa statute has been tested and supported in the courts.
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Teen Drivers
6. TEEN DRIVERS
Background
What Legislators Can Do
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in
the United States. Graduated driver’s licensing programs have been
shown to reduce the number of teenage crashes and, therefore,
reduce the number of fatalities and injuries associated with these
crashes. State legislatures during the past few years have passed
graduated driver licensing laws and have supported programs
regarding young drivers.
According to NHTSA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injury from motor vehicle crashes is the leading cause of death among U.S.
teenagers. Crash rates among drivers ages 16 to 19, per
mile driven, are higher than those for all other age groups.
The crash risk among 16- to 17-year-old drivers is almost
three times as high as among 18- to 19-year-old drivers.
Legislators can evaluate current laws regarding teen drivers and make
According to the Journal of the American Medical Associachanges where necessary. During the past few years, some states
tion, young driver inexperience and risk-taking have likely
have added passenger restrictions and nighttime driving curfews.
contributed to the high incidence of crashes. The inexpeCommunity groups can work with state legislators to educate parents
rience of young drivers makes it difficult for them to recand teens about the dangers associated with driving and how to
ognize and respond to hazards, resulting in unsafe driving
reduce fatalities and injuries among the young driving population.
practices. Their immaturity manifests itself in risky driving practices such as speeding and tailgating. The concept of graduated driver licensing (GDL) addresses youthful risk-taking, which may result
in traffic violations or crashes, by limiting access to driving privileges and providing serious
consequences, such as curtailed license privileges, for driving infractions. GDL thereby
ensures that young drivers gain experience and maturity under conditions of low risk before they progress to more risky driving situations.
Elements of Graduated Driver Licensing
Several key elements of a comprehensive GDL program for novice drivers have been recommended by NHTSA. First, licensure should be staged to phase drivers into on-the-road
driving. The stages should include a supervised learner’s period, an intermediate licensing
stage that permits unsupervised driving only in less risky situations, and a full-privilege
license when the conditions of the first two stages have been met. Second, the learner’s
stage should be long enough for adequate practice in increasingly challenging situations
and should require fairly extensive adult supervision of that practice.
Third, when independent driving begins in the intermediate stage, it
Key Elements of Graduated Driver’s Licensing
should be of substantial length and include restrictions on such risky
• Staged licensure,
activities as driving at night and with teenage passengers. Fourth, pro• Adequate length for learner stage,
grams should ensure competence before passage through each stage, us• Restricted intermediate license level,
• Ensure competence during each stage, and
ing a two-phase education program, written and road tests, and delays
• Full licensure after all stages are met.
in progress if traffic violations or at-fault crashes occur.
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Nighttime Driving Restrictions
In 1999, 41 percent of motor vehicle deaths among teenagers occurred between 9 p.m.
and 6 a.m. The nighttime driving restriction is a key element of graduated licensing laws,
according to safety advocates. It is not a curfew, but a requirement for supervised nighttime
driving. Night driving is more difficult than day driving for all drivers. Visibility is reduced, the glare of oncoming headlights can be difficult, and drivers tend to be more tired.
The risk of fatal crashes at night for all drivers is approximately 30 to 40 times greater than
during the day, and the fatal risk for teen drivers at night is higher. A study in North
Carolina showed that the time for highest risk to teens was between 9 p.m. and midnight.
As a result of the study, the North Carolina legislature included a nighttime driving restriction from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. in its graduated licensing law.
Minimum Supervised Driving Practice
Another component of graduated licensing systems is the requirement that novice drivers
complete a specified amount of supervised driving practice. For example, California, Michigan
and Ohio require 50 hours with 10 of those at night. Other states have somewhat different
requirements. For example, Illinois requires 25 hours and Massachusetts requires 12 hours.
Increased parental involvement in the education process is a cornerstone of AAA’s Licensed
to Learn program.
Passenger Restrictions
One rationale behind passenger restrictions is that teen drivers can be distracted by teen
passengers. Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that teenage drivers are at much greater risk of being involved in a fatal crash when teen passengers are
present as opposed to when they are driving alone or with an adult. In addition, a 1998
NHTSA report showed that 58 percent of fatalities in teen driver crashes are peers of the
teen driver.
Graduated Driver Licensing Studies
Numerous studies have been conducted following the passage of GDL laws. Michigan’s
comprehensive law, implemented April 1, 1997, included nearly all the recommended
GDL components. In 2000, researchers at the Transportation Research Institute evaluated
the crash rates of 16-year-old drivers before and after GDL implementation. The study
found that the rate of 16-year-old drivers (per 1,000 population) involved in crashes declined from 154 in 1996 to 111 in 1999. After adjusting for population trends, the overall
crash risk for 16-year-olds was significantly reduced (by 25 percent) from 1996 to 1999.
Significant reductions also occurred for non-fatal injury and combined fatal and nonfatal
crashes.
Evaluation of Florida’s graduated license law that took effect on July 1, 1996, determined
that the law resulted in a 9 percent reduction in fatality and injury crashes among 15- to
17-year-old drivers. North Carolina’s law became effective on Dec. 1, 1997 and, despite an
increase of nearly 500,000 new drivers, the number of youth fatalities declined slightly. A
report by the University of North Carolina indicated that North Carolina’s graduated licensing law is being credited with a 29 percent decline in crashes involving 16-year-olds. It
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Teen Drivers
is believed that the law has had an even greater effect on nighttime crashes, reducing late
night crashes for 16-year-old drivers by 47 percent.
Driver’s Education
Most states impose some kind of driver’s education requirement for a novice driver’s license. These courses, which typically include 30 hours of classroom instruction and six
hours on the road, have been available for decades. It is assumed that these courses improve
driver safety. However, a 1970s study conducted in DeKalb County, Ga., dispelled this
assumption. Although such courses may not improve driver safety, they do teach the rules
of the road at the appropriate time. Numerous states require teens to spend time in the
classroom and behind the wheel. In Vermont and Virginia, the instruction includes specific information such as drug and alcohol abuse, aggressive driving, railroad crossing, and
organ and tissue donation. The Kentucky administrative code details the components of
the driver education curriculum. Curriculum must consist of at least 45 minutes on the
dangers of alcohol and drugs, at least 45 minutes on defensive and perceptive driving, at
least 30 minutes on seat belt usage, at least 45 minutes on driver behavior, and at least 30
minutes on rules of the road.
Safety groups have attempted to improve driver’s education. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety developed a model curriculum in 1995 that suggests adaptive and experiential
programs that stimulate and incorporate advances in knowledge and technology. The curriculum also provides for the development of interactive computer learning tools to improve decision making and instruction that supports parental involvement.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, NHTSA and the American Association of Motor
Vehicle Administrators support the coordination of driver’s education with licensing, such
as a component of graduated licensing. Teens could have a basic driver education course in
the learner stage and a more advanced safety course in the intermediate stage. Thus, teens
could learn more about safety after they have gained some basic driving experience. Michigan was the first state to include this educational process as part of its graduated license
law.
Licensing Linked to Non-Driving Issues
Many states are linking the privilege to drive with school attendance with the hope that the
driving will be an incentive to stay in school. At least 15 states require proof of enrollment
and good standing in school to obtain a learner’s permit or license. Other states penalize
students who drop out of school by suspending their license.
Besides linking teen driving to school attendance, states have linked other issues to driving
privileges. In Nevada, the court may suspend a license if a teen is guilty of a graffiti or
firearms violation. Florida teens can lose their license if they are convicted of possession of
tobacco products. In the 2002 legislative session, Colorado considered a bill that would
revoke driving privileges if a teen is guilty of aggravated motor vehicle theft. The bill did
not pass out of committee.
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
State Laws
Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have enacted some or all of the elements of
graduated licensing (appendix G). Thirty-two states—Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina,
Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin—and the District of Columbia
have, according to safety groups, the core elements of a graduated licensing plan as compared with the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances (NCUTLO)
model graduated licensing law. The NCUTLO core components are a learner’s phase of at
least six months, an intermediate license phase of at least six months that also includes a
prohibition against unsupervised nighttime driving, and full licensure. Drivers must remain free of traffic violations during the license phases. Eleven other states have at least
some of the core provisions.
California was the first state to impose passenger restrictions as part of its graduated licensing system. For the first six months of the provisional license, drivers in California are
prohibited from transporting passengers under age 20 unless they also are accompanied by
a parent or an adult over age 25. A family exemption allows teens unaccompanied by an
adult to drive immediate family members under age 20 during the first six months at any
time of the day or night as long as the teen has a letter authorizing it from his or her parent.
Seventeen other states—Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey,
New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin—and the District of Columbia now impose some
kind of passenger restriction. South Carolina adopted stricter restrictions, limiting unsupervised nighttime driving from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., the earliest cutoff for teen driving. Idaho
restricts teen drivers from driving unsupervised from sunset to sunrise. Thirty-six states and
the District of Columbia have similar restrictions, although the times vary.
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Conclusion
7. CONCLUSION
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children. Each year, these
crashes are responsible for the deaths of more than 2,500 child passengers under age 16
and serious injuries to more than 320,000. Progress has been made to reduce childhood
injuries and fatalities resulting from car crashes. In fact, the fatality rate for children has
declined by nearly 50 percent during the past 25 years.
Many tools have been used over the past few decades to make travel by car and bus safer for
children. The federal government has instituted a series of federal safety standards designed
to ensure the highest quality and safety of child safety seats and motor vehicles. Federal
safety standards also have been implemented to ensure the safety of school buses. NHTSA
has implemented public education campaigns targeting children and parents on a variety
of issue areas including child occupant protection, pedestrian and bicycle issues, school
bus safety, child endangerment and drunk driving and graduated driver’s licenses for teens.
This heightened level of awareness has helped to increase the safety of child passengers.
More parents are using child safety seats correctly and insisting that their children ride in
the back seat. These parents also have turned to fitting inspection stations in their communities to ensure proper installation and use of child safety seats. Other parents are becoming active in the education process relating to graduated driver’s licensing for teens. Young
pedestrians and bicyclists are educated, not only by their parents, but also in school regarding school bus safety as well as helmet use and safe ways to cross the street.
Public education campaigns have been successful in raising awareness and helping the
public determine the safest way for their children to ride in a car, on a bus, on a bicycle,
scooter or skateboard, the implications of drunk driving and eventually teaching teens how
to drive. While these education campaigns are important, state laws also have played an
important role in reducing the number of children killed or injured each year in trafficrelated crashes.
Each year hundreds of bills designed to increase the level of safety for child passengers are
proposed in state legislatures throughout the country. These proposed laws cover a wide
range of issue areas including occupant protection, pedestrian and bicycle safety, school
bus safety, child endangerment and drunk driving, and graduated driver’s licensing for
teens.
Safety advocates believe that gaps in child passenger protection laws must be closed in
order to save additional lives and prevent injuries. In some states, child passenger protection laws only cover children up to a certain age, usually age 3 or 4. Thirteen states have
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Traffic Safety and Children
passed new laws in the last few years designed to extend the coverage of state child passenger laws to older children. Other states have passed laws that prohibit young passengers
from riding in the back of pickup trucks.
Proposals designed to ensure school bus safety are considered by state legislatures each year.
These bills cover issues including installing seat belts on school buses, licensing school bus
drivers, cell phone use by school bus drivers and types of vehicles appropriate for school
transportation. Legislators also consider legislation designed to ensure the safety of teen
drivers. Through the implementation of graduated licensing laws and other provisions,
state legislators have established licensing programs designed to reduce the high rate of
fatalities and injuries facing teen drivers today.
State legislators can influence their communities, not only through the passage of laws, but
also by working with community groups and organizations. By working with these groups
and organizations, they can support child passenger education programs, fitting inspection
stations and car seat loaner programs.
This book has identified various state laws, federal standards and education campaigns that
have a beneficial influence on a variety of child safety issues, including child safety seats,
seat belts, pedestrian and bicycle safety, school bus safety, child endangerment and drunk
driving and graduated drivers licensing for teens. These tools and laws represent a few of
the ways communities and state legislatures can work together to help ensure the highest
level of motor vehicle safety for children.
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Appendices
LIST OF APPENDICES
A. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Glossary of Terms—
Child Passenger Protection ...................................................................................... 39
B. State Seat Belt Laws ................................................................................................. 45
C. State Child Occupant Protection Laws ................................................................... 47
D. Children not Covered by Child Restraint or Seat Belt Laws .................................. 50
E. State Pickup Truck Laws .......................................................................................... 52
F. State Drunk Driving Child Endangerment Laws .................................................... 56
G. State Graduated Licensing Laws .............................................................................. 63
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
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Appendices
Appendix A. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Glossary of Terms—Child Passenger Protection
2-Point Seat Belt—A restraint system with two attachment points. A lap belt.
3-Point Child Restraint Harness (CR) Harness—A restraint system with three attachment points, two at the
shoulder and one between the legs.
3-Point Seat Belt—A seat belt with both a lap and a shoulder portion, having three attachment points (one
shoulder, two hips).
5-Point Child Restraint (CR) Harness—A child restraint harness with five attachment points, two at the
shoulder, two at the hips, one between the legs.
Advanced Air Bags—Supplemental restraint systems with deployment adjustments to better protect children and improperly positioned adults.
Air Bag—A passive (idle) restraint system that automatically deploys during a crash to act as a cushion for the
occupant. It creates a broad surface on which to spread the forces of the crash, to reduce head and chest
injury. It is considered “supplementary” to the lap/shoulder belts because it enhances the protection the
belt system offers in frontal crashes. Also known as SRS—supplemental restraint system; SIR—supplemental inflatable restraint; SIPS—side impact protection system; IC—inflatable curtain; SIAB—side
impact air bag.
Armrest (child seat)—A U-shaped bar encircling the child on older models of child restraints; not connected
to the shoulder straps and not part of the system intended to restrain the child. Not a shield. No longer
allowed on child restraints meeting FMVSS No. 213 (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard).
Armrest (vehicle)—Found in the middle of the back seat of some vehicles. These usually pull down from the
top of the vehicle seat back cushion. Some child seat manufacturers recommend against placing a rear
facing child seat in a seating position which has a pull down armrest.
Automatic Locking Retractor (ALR)—A safety belt retractor that locks maintaining a fixed seat belt (lap belt)
length during use. Good for child seat installation.
Automatic Restraint—Passive restraint that requires no action by the user; (e.g., shoulder or lap/shoulder belts
that automatically wrap around the occupant; air bags).
Base (of a child seat)—The base of a child seat is the lower portion that rests on the vehicle seat. A detachable
base that comes with many infant seats is used to permit a fixed installation into the vehicle allowing the
child seat to be taken in and out of the vehicle without having to do a new installation each time.
Belt Anchor Points—Fixed locations where the safety belt’s latchplate and buckle are anchored to the vehicle
structure.
Belt Path/Route—The manufacturer’s required place where the safety belt passes around or through the
child restraint.
Belt-Positioning Booster Seat (BPB)—A platform that raises the child (provides a taller sitting height) so
adult lap and shoulder belts fit better; some have high backs as well. Never use with a lap belt only across
the child.
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Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Belt-Shortening Clip or Heavy Duty Locking Clip—A heavy duty locking clip intended for use to shorten
lap belts which have emergency locking retractors (ELRs) for use with a child restraint. Not to be
confused with a standard locking clip. Heavy duty locking clips can only be obtained through a vehicle
manufacturer.
Belt Webbing—A term used to refer to the vehicle seat belt material.
Booster Seats—Are intended to be used as a transition to lap and shoulder belts by older children who have
outgrown convertible seats (over 40 pounds). They are available in high backs, for use in vehicles with
low seat backs or no head restraints, and no-back; booster bases only.
Buckle—The locking mechanism of the vehicle belt and child safety seat buckle/latchplate system. Buckles
are typically mounted/attached to fabric webbing and/or by metal or plastic stalks.
Car Seat—Common term for a specially designed device that secures a child in a motor vehicle, meets federal
motor vehicle safety standards, and increases child safety in a crash.
Chest Clip—The chest clip is a device on the harness straps of the child safety seats used to position the straps
properly on the child.
Child Safety Seat/Child Restraint—A crash tested device that is specially designed to provide infant/child
crash protection. A general term for all sorts of devices including those that are vests or car beds rather
than seats.
Children With Special Transportation Needs—Children whose physical, medical, or behavioral condition
makes the use of particular, often specially-designed, restraints necessary.
Cinching Latchplate—(also known as lightweight locking latchplate) Found on some continuous loop lap
and shoulder belts. A latchplate which has a sliding lock/cinch feature intended to keep the vehicle belt
at a fixed length for child seat installation.
Combination Child Seat/BPB—A type of forward facing child restraint that is used with an internal harness
system to secure a child up to 40 pounds and then, with the removal of the internal harness, is used as
a high back belt positioning booster (BPB) seat.
Combination (Switchable) ELR/ALR Retractor—A safety belt retractor that can be operated in the emergency locking mode for adults and switched to the automatic locking mode for use with a child safety
seat.
Compliance Tests—Rigorous crash and static testing done to assure that child safety seat manufacturers meet
required federal motor vehicle safety standards (in this case, FMVSS 213). Performance requirements
established by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Continuous-Loop Lap/Shoulder Belt—A three-point belt that uses one continuous piece of webbing, that
slides through a latch plate. It is connected at one end to the vehicle at the anchor point and the other to
a retractor system.
Convertible Child Safety Seat/Restraint—A child restraint that can be used in more than one mode; usually
rear-facing for infants and forward-facing for toddlers.
CPS—Child Passenger Safety.
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Appendices
Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR)—Allows the belt to move freely, locks only when the vehicle or
occupant slows quickly/abruptly or stops suddenly. Will not secure a child safety seat. An ELR may be
switchable, converting from an emergency locking to automatic locking system.
Fixed Latchplate—Latchplate is permanently sewn/attached to the lap belt to or the combination lap and
shoulder belt.
FMVSS 213 (49 CFR 571.213)—Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that pertains to all restraint
systems intended for use as crash protection in vehicles for children up to 50 pounds.
FMVSS No. 225 (49 CFR 571.225)—Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that pertains to the standardized vehicle anchorage systems for child safety seats (upper and lower) that are independent of the
vehicle seat belts.
Foam Noodle—This is a foam rod or tube about 4-5 inches in diameter and five feet long; these are found in
pool and toy stores. Cut off a piece the width of the child seat base and use to raise the base of the seat to
obtain a 45 degree angle (placed under base where car seat cushion and base meet). A rolled up towel or
newspapers, etc., serve the same purpose.
Forward-Facing Child Restraint—A restraint that is intended for use only in the forward-facing position for
a child at least age one and at least 20 pounds up to 40 pounds.
Free Sliding Latchplate—Type of latch plate that has no lock feature to securely position the latchplate along
the belt webbing. The latchplate “freely” slides along the belt. This type of system must have a locking
retractor to keep the belt at a fixed length for child seat installation or it must be used with a regular
locking clip.
Frontal Air Bag—A frontal air bag is one installed in the dashboard.
Harness Retainer Clip—A plastic tie or clasp that holds the two shoulder straps close together over the child’s
chest at armpit level; intended to keep harness straps in position on the shoulders. Used for pre-crash
positioning.
Harness Strap—This refers to the child seat straps used to secure the child into the safety seat.
Harness Threading—Harness straps should be in lowest slots for rear facing infants (at or below shoulder
level); in top slots for forward facing use (at or above shoulder level). Always refer to the child seat
manufacturers instructions for proper location.
Heavy Duty Locking Clip (HDLC) or Belt Shortening Clip—A flat, H-shaped metal clip, intended for
shortening a lap belt with an emergency locking retractor so it will secure a child restraint. Can also be
used to prevent webbing from sliding through a sliding latch plate. Heavy Duty Locking Clips can only
be obtained from a vehicle manufacturer.
Infant-Only Restraint—A restraint designed for use only by a baby (usually weighing less than 17-22
pounds) in a semi-reclined, rear-facing position.
Integral/Integrated Child Seat—A child-sized, forward facing restraint or belt-positioning booster built into
a vehicle seat. Some have a full harness and hold children over 20 pounds; others are belt-positioning
boosters for use with the adult lap and shoulder belts.
Lap Belt—A safety belt anchored at two points, for use across the occupant’s thighs/hips.
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Lap/Shoulder Belt—A safety belt that is anchored at three points and restrains the occupant at the hips and
across the shoulder; also called a “combination belt”.
LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren)—This new system makes child safety seat installation
easier without using seat belts. LATCH is required on most child safety seats and vehicles manufactured after
Sept. 1, 2002. LATCH is not required for booster seats, car beds and vests. LATCH-equipped vehicles have
at least two sets of small bars, called anchors, located in the back seat where the cushions meet. LATCHequipped child safety seats have a lower set of attachments that fasten to these vehicle anchors. Most
forward-facing child safety seats also have a top strap (top tether), that attaches to a top anchor in the vehicle.
Together, they make up the LATCH system.
Latchplate—The part of the buckle mechanism that slides into the buckle; usually the part that affects the
length of the belt. Switchable latchplates have a lock button to allow the seatbelt to be locked around the
child safety seat.
Locking Clip—A flat H-shaped metal clip intended to fasten together belt webbing (lap and shoulder
portion) at a sliding latch plate, to prevent the webbing from sliding through. Typically the clip which
comes attached with most child safety seats. Should be fastened just above the latch plate. Cannot be
used in place of a Heavy Duty Locking Clip.
Locking Latchplate—A latch plate that holds the lap belt snug after it has been adjusted. Type of latchplate
that contains a metal bar on the underside of the hardware that “locks” the belt in position.
Lower Anchorage System—New method to affix Child Restraint System (CRS) to vehicles independent of
the vehicle seat belts.
Manual Seat Belt—A seat belt that must be fastened and adjusted by the occupant, often found in the rear
center seating position.
Model Year (MY)—Date of manufacture of either a vehicle or a child restraint system.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—The federal agency that sets performance
requirements for motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment such as child restraints.
Overhead Shield—See “Tray Shield”.
Passenger-Air Bag—An air bag that is in the right front part of the passenger compartment. It is larger than
the driver bag and would restrain either center or right-front occupants. Air bags are a supplement to the
use of seat belts and designed to protect adult occupants in frontal crashes.
Rear-Facing Infant Seat—Type of child restraint system that is specifically meant for use by children from
birth up to 1 year and approximately 20 pounds used in the rear-facing mode only.
Retractor—A mechanism that rolls up the unused webbing of the safety belt when it is not in use and takes
up slack around the user.
Seat Belt—The webbing, anchor and buckle system that restrains the occupant and/or child safety seat in the
vehicle.
Seat Belt Positioning Devices—These are products marketed and sold to adjust the vehicle seat belt to fit a
child. There are no federal safety standards for these products. NHTSA recommends the use of child
safety seats and booster seats instead of these products.
Seat Bight/Seat Crack—The intersection between the bottom vehicle seat cushion and the back cushion.
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Appendices
Sewn-On Latchplate or Fixed Latchplate—Latch plate is permanently sewn to the lap or lap and shoulder
belt.
Shell—The molded plastic structure of the child restraint. In some models, the shell is attached to or reinforced by a metal bar or frame.
Shield Booster Seat—A platform that raises the child and positions a small convex shield across the lap and
lower abdomen to restrain the child. A vehicle lap belt restrains the booster seat with shield for children
between 30 pounds and 40 pounds. Some models have removable shields and covert to a belt-position
booster seat (BPB).
Shoulder Belt Positioners or Comfort Guides—Devices (some built in and some add-ons) that can be used
to reposition shoulder belts so they fit across the shoulder rather than across the neck. Aftermarket belt
positioners are not currently tested by NHTSA.
Shoulder Harness Slots—Slots in the back of the child restraint through which the shoulder straps are
routed.
Side Impact Air Bags—Air bags that provide additional chest protection to adults in many side crashes.
Children who are seated in close proximity to a side air bag may be at risk of serious or fatal injury if the
air bag deploys. Check with the vehicle dealer or vehicle owner’s manual for information about danger
to children.
Sliding Latchplate—A latchplate that moves freely on a continuous loop of vehicle belt webbing.
Stroller System—A combination of child safety seat and stroller frame/wheels allowing the child safety seat to
be removed from the vehicle and attached to the stroller frame for stroller usage.
Switchable Retractor (ELR/ALR)—Belts designed for adults to use emergency locking retractor (ELR) and
children in safety seats to use the automatic locking retractor (ALR). Check the vehicle belt for a label
describing the switchable function in addition to the information provided in the vehicle owners
manual. Some convert from ELR to ALR by pulling the belt all the way out of the retractor, as it rewinds,
it should lock and hold at the appropriate length.
T-Shield—Part of a restraint system in a child safety seat; a roughly triangular or “T” shaped pad that is
attached to the shoulder harness straps, fits over the child’s abdomen and hips and buckles between the
legs.
Tether Anchor—Attachment point in vehicle for child safety seat tether strap. Refer to vehicle owner’s
manual regarding anchor location.
Tether Strap—An additional belt that anchors the child safety seat top to the vehicle frame; keeps the
restraint from tipping forward on impact; can provide an extra margin of protection. Can be optional or
factory installed. A tether strap is typically available on most child safety seats manufactured after Sept.
1, 1999.
Tilt-lock tether strap adjuster—Tether can be tightened or loosened after installation in the vehicle without
unhooking or re-threading the strap.
Tray Shield—Part of a restraint system in a child safety seat; a wide, padded surface that swings down in front
of the child’s body, attached to shoulder straps and crotch buckle. Looks like a padded armrest, but is an
integral part of the harness system.
National Conference of State Legislatures
44
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Vest—A child restraint system that has shoulder straps, hip straps (and sometimes) a crotch strap. Can be
specially made to order according to a child’s chest measurement, etc. Must be used along with the
vehicle belt system.
Whiplash Injury—An injury to the neck usually caused by sudden whipping of the head backward during
a rear impact collision.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2002.
National Conference of State Legislatures
45
Appendices
Appendix B. State Seat Belt Laws
State/Jurisdiction
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Standard
Enforcement?
yes
no
no
no
yes
no
yes
no
no
Who Is Covered?
In What Seats?
6+ yrs. in front seat
16+ yrs. in all seats
5+ yrs. in front seat
15+ yrs. in front seat
16+ yrs. in all seats
4+ yrs. in front seat
4+ yrs. in front seat
all in front seat
6+ yrs. in front seat;
6 through 17 yrs. in
all seats
yes
5 through 17 yrs. in
all seats; 18+ yrs. in
front seat
yes
4 through 17 yrs. in
all seats; 18+ yrs. in
front seat
no
4+ yrs. in front seat
no
6+ yrs. in front seat;
all in all seats if
driver is younger
than 18 yrs.
yes
4 through 11 yrs. in
all seats; 12+ yrs. in
front seat
yes
6+ yrs. in front seat
no
14+ yrs. in front seat
no
more than 40 in. in
all seats
yes
13+ yrs. in front seat
no
18+ yrs. in all seats
(eff. 1/1/03)
yes
16+ yrs. in front seat
no
12+ yrs. in all seats
yes
4+ yrs. in front seat;
4 through 15 yrs. in
all seats
no
all in front seat; 3
through 10 yrs. in all
seats
no (yes for children 4 through 7 yrs. in
<8)
all seats/8+ yrs. in
front seat
no (yes for children 4+ yrs. in front seat;
<16)
4 through 15 yrs. in
all seats
Maximum Fine
1st Offense
$25
$15
$10
1,2
$25
$20
$15
$15
$20
$30
$15
4
Damages Reduced
for Nonuse?
no
yes
yes
no
yes
3
yes
no
no
yes
no
$45
no
$5
$25
no
no
$25
no
$10
$10
$25
yes
no
yes
$25
$50
no
no
$25
4
$25
$25
no
no
3
yes
$25
no
$25
no
$10
yes
National Conference of State Legislatures
3
3
46
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Appendix B. State Seat Belt Laws (continued)
State/Jurisdiction
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
Standard
Enforcement?
no
no
no
no law
yes
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
yes
yes
yes
no
no
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
yes
yes
no
no (yes for children
<13)
no (yes for children
5
<18 yrs.)
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Who Is Covered?
In What Seats?
4+ yrs. in all seats
16+ yrs. in front seat
5+ yrs. in all seats
no law
7 yrs. and younger
and more than 80
lbs.; 8 through 17 in
all seats; 18+ in front
seat
18+ yrs. in all seats
16+ yrs. in front seat
16+ yrs. in front seat
18+ yrs. in front seat
4+ yrs. in front seat
all in front seat
16+ yrs. in all seats
4+ yrs. in front seat
7+ yrs. in all seats
6+ yrs. in front seat;
6+ yrs. in rear seat
with shoulder belt
no
5+ yrs. in front seat
no
4+ yrs. in front seat
yes
4 through 16 yrs. in
all seats; 17+ yrs. in
front seat
no (yes for children 16+ yrs. in all seats
<19 yrs.)
no
13+ yrs. in all seats
no
16+ yrs. in front seat
Yes
all in all seats
No
9+ yrs. in front seat;
9 through 17 yrs. in
all seats
No
4+ yrs. in front seat;
4 through 15 yrs. in
rear seat with
shoulder belt
No
5+ yrs. in all seats
District of Columbia Yes
16+ yrs. in all seats
Maximum Fine
1st Offense
$20
$25
$25
no law
$20
Damages Reduced
for Nonuse?
no
3
yes
no
no
yes
$25
1
$50
$25
$20
$25 driver/$15
passenger
$20
$75
$10
$30
no
yes
no
yes
yes
$10
no
$20
$10
$200
no
no
no
$45
no
$10
$25
$35
$25
no
no
no
3
yes
$10
yes
no
yes
no
no
3
2
$25 driver/$10
passenger
1
$50
no
no
1
Notes
1. These states assess points for violations. For further details, please call the Institute.
2. Arkansas and Wyoming reward belt use by reducing the fine for the primary violation by $10.
3. Under the safety belt defense, Wisconsin allows a maximum 15 percent damage reduction. In Missouri, a
maximum 1 percent is allowed. In three states (Iowa, Michigan, and Nebraska), the damage reduction may not
exceed 5 percent. In Colorado, damages may be reduced for pain and suffering only, not for economic or medical
losses. In West Virginia, an award for medical expenses only may be reduced by no more than 5 percent.
4. In Georgia, the maximum fine is $25 if the child is age 5 to 18. Drivers in Massachusetts may be fined $25 for
violating the belt law themselves and $25 for each unrestrained passenger age 12 to 16.
5. Police are prohibited in South Carolina from enforcing safety belt laws at checkpoints designed for that purpose.
However, safety belt violations may be issued at license and registration checkpoints.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2002
National Conference of State Legislatures
47
Appendices
Appendix C. State Child Occupant Protection Laws
State/Jurisdiction
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
Who Is Covered?
Must Be in Child
Adult Safety Belt
Restraint
Permissible
3 yrs. and younger
4 through 5 yrs.
3 yrs. and younger
4 through 15 yrs.
4 yrs. and younger
not permissible
5 yrs. and younger and
6 yrs. or 60+ lbs. through
less than 60 lbs.
14 yrs.
5 yrs. and younger or less 6 through 15 yrs. or
2
60+lbs.
than 60 lbs.
3 yrs. and younger and
4 through 15 yrs. or 40+
less than 40 lbs.
lbs.
3 yrs. and younger and
4 through 15 yrs. or 40+
less than 40 lbs.
lbs.
4
3 yrs. and younger
4 through 15 yrs.
3 yrs. and younger
4 through 5 yrs.
4 yrs. and younger
Not permissible
3 yrs. and younger
Not permissible
3 yrs. and younger and
Not permissible
less than 40 lbs.
3 yrs. and younger
4 through 15 yrs.
5
3 yrs. and younger
Not permissible
2 yrs. and younger
3 through 5 yrs.
3 yrs. and younger
4 through 13 yrs.
40 in. or less
Not permissible
3 through 12 yrs; children
2 yrs. and younger
3+ yrs. must be in rear
seat if available
Less than 40 lbs. in a child
safety seat; 40-80 lbs. and
less than 8 yrs. in a safety
system that elevates the
8 yrs. through 17 yrs. or
child so that an adult
less than 18 yrs. and more
seatbelt fits properly;
than 4'7"
11 yrs. and younger and
less than 100 lbs. must be
in rear seat if available –
(eff. 1/1/03)
3 yrs. and younger or 40 More than 40 lbs.
lbs. or less
through 15 yrs.
4 yrs. and younger or 40
5 through 11 yrs.
lbs. or less
3 yrs. and younger
Not permissible
3 yrs. and younger
Not permissible
3 yrs. and younger
Not permissible
3 yrs. and younger
Not permissible
2 through 3 yrs. or less
Younger than 2 yrs.
than 40 lbs.
5 yrs. and younger
6 through 15 yrs.
(eff. 7/20/02)
(eff. 7/20/02)
4 yrs. and younger and
Not permissible
less than 40 lbs.
3 yrs. and younger
4 through 17 yrs.
National Conference of State Legislatures
Maximum Fine 1st
Offense
$10
1
$50
$50
$100
1
$100
$50
$60
3
$29
1
$60
1
$50
3
$100
$100
$50 (eff. 1/1/02)
1
$25
$10
$20
$50
$50
$500
$25
$25
$10
$50
$25
$25
$100
$25
1
$100
$25
48
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Appendix C. State Child Occupant Protection Laws (continued)
State/Jurisdiction
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Who Is Covered?
Must Be in Child
Adult Safety Belt
Restraint
Permissible
7 yrs. and younger and
less than 80 lbs. seated in Not permissible
rear seat if available
Younger than 1 yr. in a
rear-facing infant seat,
seated in the rear seat if
5 through 17 yrs.
available; 1 through 4 yrs.
or less than 40 lbs.
3 yrs. and younger in all
4 through 15 yrs.
seats
4 yrs. and younger and
5 through 15 yrs.
4
less than 40 lbs.
3 yrs. and younger
4 through 17 yrs.
3 yrs. and younger or less
Not permissible
than 40 lbs.
3 yrs. and younger and 60
4 through 12 yrs.
lbs. or less
3 yrs. and younger and 40
lbs. or less in a child safety
seat; 4 through 5 yrs. or
6 through 15 yrs. and 60+
40-60 lbs. in a safety
lbs.
system that elevates the
child so that an adult
seatbelt fits properly
3 yrs. and younger
not permissible
6 yrs. and younger, less
6 yrs. and younger, 54+"
than 54" and less than 80
and 80+ lbs.
lbs.
Children 6 yrs. and younger must be in rear seat if
available
Younger than 1 yr. or less
than 20 lbs. in a rear1 through 5 yrs. and 80
facing infant seat; 1
lbs. or more OR any child
through 5 yrs. and 20-40
5 yrs. and younger if the
lbs. in a forward-facing
child's knees bend over
child safety seat; 1
the seat edge when sitting
through 5 yrs. and 40-80
up straight with his/her
lbs. in a booster seat
back firmly against the
secured by lap-shoulder
seat back
belt. Lap belt alone is not
permissible
Children 5 yrs. and younger must be in rear seat if
available
5 through 17 yrs.; all
4 yrs. and younger and
children 40+ lbs.,
less than 40 lbs.
regardless of age
3 yrs. and younger in a
child safety seat; 4
4 through 7 yrs. and 40+
through 7 yrs. and less
lbs.; 8 through 14 yrs.
than 40 lbs. in a child
safety seat
National Conference of State Legislatures
Maximum Fine 1st
Offense
$25
$25
1
$100
$25
1
1
none
1
$100
$10
$75
$25
$50
$25
$20
$50
3
49
Appendices
Appendix C. State Child Occupant Protection Laws (continued)
State/Jurisdiction
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
District of Columbia
Who Is Covered?
Must Be in Child
Adult Safety Belt
Restraint
Permissible
3 yrs. and younger or less
not permissible
than 36 in.
4 yrs. and younger
5 through 15 yrs.
4 yrs. and younger
5 through 12 yrs.
6
5 yrs. and younger
6 through 15 yrs.
(eff. 7/1/02)
(eff. 7/1/02)
Younger than 1 yr. or less
than 20 lbs. in a rearfacing infant seat;
1 through 3 yrs. or 20-40
6 through 15 or 60+ lbs.
lbs. in a forward-facing
child safety seat;
4 through 5 yrs. or 40-60
4
lbs in a booster seat
2 yrs. and younger
3 through 8 yrs.
3 yrs. and younger
4 through 7 yrs.
4 yrs. and younger and 40
not permissible
lbs. or less
2 yrs. and younger
3 through 15 yrs.
Maximum Fine 1st
Offense
$200
(eff. 9/1/01)
$45
$25
$50
$35
$20
$75
$50
$55
1
1
Notes:
1. These states assess points for violations. For further details, please call the Institute.
2. Children weighing more than 40 lbs. may be belted without a booster seat if they are seated in the rear seat of a
vehicle not equipped with lap/shoulder belts.
3. The fine in Connecticut is $15 if the child is age 4 to 16 and 40 lbs. or more. Connecticut also requires a
mandatory child restraint education program for first or second violation. Hawaii drivers are charged $50 for a
mandatory child restraint education program. In Tennessee, the maximum fine is $20 if the child is age 4 to 15.
4. In Delaware, children younger than 12 years/65 inches or less must be restrained in rear seat if vehicle has a
passenger airbag unless the airbag has been either deactivated or is designed to accommodate smaller people.
Exceptions: no rear seat or rear seat occupied by other children younger than 12 yrs./65 inches or less. In North
Carolina, children younger than age 5 who weigh less than 40 lbs. must be restrained in a child safety seat in the
rear seat if the vehicle has a passenger airbag, unless the child restraint system is designed for use with airbags. In
Washington, effective 7/1/02, children younger than age 6 or weighing less than 60 lbs. must be restrained in a
child restraint system in the rear seat, if the vehicle has a passenger airbag.
5. In Indiana, children younger than age 4 must be restrained in adult belts if it is reasonably determined they cannot
fit in child restraints.
6. Children at least age 4 but younger than age 6 may be belted if the weight or size of the child make the use of a child
restraint device impractical.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2002.
National Conference of State Legislatures
50
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Appendix D. Children not Covered by Child Restraint or
Seat Belt Laws
State/Jurisdiction
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Those Not Covered
Younger than 6 yrs. in out-of-state vehicle; 6+ yrs. in rear seat
All children covered
5+ yrs. in rear seat
15+ yrs. in rear seat
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
4+ yrs. or 40+ lbs. in rear seat
Younger than 4 yrs if driver is other than parent or guardian unless
parent provides restraint
Younger than 4 yrs. in out-of-state vehicle; 12+ yrs. in rear seat
Younger than 6 yrs. in out-of-state vehicle; 6+ yrs. in rear seat
14+ yrs. in rear seat
All children covered
Younger than 13 yrs. if driver is nonresident of state; 13+ yrs. in
rear seat
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
11+ yrs. in rear seat
8+ yrs. in rear seat
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
4+ yrs. and more than 40 lbs. in rear seat
13+ yrs. in rear seat; younger than 13 yrs. if driver is nonresident of
state (this gap will be eliminated 11/01/02)
All children covered
4+ yrs. in rear seat
6 yrs. and younger in front seat if vehicle does not have a rear seat
6+ yrs. in rear seat without shoulder belt
National Conference of State Legislatures
51
Appendices
Appendix D. Children not Covered by Child Restraint or
Seat Belt Laws (continued)
State/Jurisdiction
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
District of
Columbia
Those Not Covered
All children covered
15+ yrs. in rear seat
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
All children covered
40+ lbs. seated in a position without a shoulder belt
All children covered
8+ yrs. in rear seat without shoulder belt
All children covered
All children covered
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2002.
National Conference of State Legislatures
52
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Appendix E. State Pickup Truck Laws
State/
Jurisdiction
Prohibited
Highway
Streets
Speed
Seat
Restraints*
Penalty
Exceptions
Other Restrictions
Alabama
No law
Alaska
28.05.095
Under age 16
Arkansas
27-35-104
All ages
Infraction,
$15
If vehicle lacks safety
belts
Seat belt law
requires safety
restraints for all
occupants
Employee on duty;
people riding within
bodies of trucks in
space intended for
merchandise
Arizona
No law
California
Veh. 23116
All ages
Colorado
RSA
42-4-201
All ages
Connecticut
GSA 14-272a
X
Under age 16
X
All ages
X
Under age 18
X
X
15
mph
X
Class A
infraction,
$15
Class A
infraction,
$15
X
Infraction
Campers; farming;
emergency situations;
and parades
Truck bed is
completely enclosed;
sitting in the flat area;
parades; and
exhibitions
Farming vehicles;
parades; and
recreational hayrides
between August and
December
Delaware
No law
Florida
FSA 316.2015
Georgia
OCGA
40-8-79
Hawaii
RSA 291-14
X
X
Driver, $60 Sitting in the flat area;
parades; and workmoving
violation; related activities
rider, $30
fine
Misdemeanor
All ages
$25 nonmoving
violation
No seats available in
the cab; truck bed is
completely enclosed;
parades; passengers do
not attempt to control
unlashed cargo; sitting
on the flat area; and
entities operating
businesses that serve
the public
$10 fine
Employee on duty,
officially authorized
parades, caravan or
exhibitions
Idaho
No law
Illinois
No law
Indiana
No law
Iowa
No law
Kansas
8-1578a
Under age 14
X
X
X
National Conference of State Legislatures
Standing prohibited
at all times while the
vehicle is in
operation
53
Appendices
Appendix E. State Pickup Truck Laws (continued)
State/
Jurisdiction
Prohibited
Kentucky
KRS 189.125
KRS 281.735
(Commercial
vehicles)
Louisiana
LSA 32: 284c
All ages
Highway
Streets
Speed
Seat
Restraints*
Penalty
X
Under age 12
X
Maine
§2088
Under age 19
X
Maryland
ACM
21-1121
Under age 16
X
Massachusetts
Under age 12
Medical reasons,
postal workers
15
mph
X
25
mph
5 mph
GLA 90-13
Michigan
257.682b
Under age 18
Minnesota
169.686
Under age 11
X
X
15
mph
Civil
infraction
X
Exceptions
$25
Parades and
emergency response
situations when the
child is accompanied
by an adult
Agricultural workers;
parades; passengers
secured by seat belts
Truck bed is
completely enclosed;
work-related activities;
and farming
Parades, “owner
repair” or “farm”
plates and engaged in
farming activities
Permitted parades; a
vehicle operated in
farming, construction
or similar enterprises;
military vehicle;
emergency vehicle;
search and rescue
vehicle
Vehicle driven in
reverse; all seat belts
taken; medical
reasons; postal
workers; pre-1965
vehicles; employee on
duty required to alight
and reenter vehicle at
speeds under 25;
postal workers
Mississippi
No law
Missouri
304.665
Under age 18
X
Class C mis- Enclosed cargo area;
demeanor employee on duty;
agricultural activities;
authorized parade,
caravan or exhibition;
a vehicle with some
means of securing
person from being
discharged; “special
events;” person
providing assistance or
ensuring safety of
those doing
recreational activity;
all cab seating taken in
family-owned vehicle
Montana
No law
Nebraska
No law
National Conference of State Legislatures
Other Restrictions
54
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Appendix E. State Pickup Truck Laws (continued)
State/
Jurisdiction
Prohibited
Highway
Nevada
NRS 484.473
Over age 18
X
Counties
more than
100,000
New
Hampshire
RSA 265:106
RSA 265:107
All ages
New
Hampshire
RSA
265:107-a
New Jersey
NJSA 39:4-69
Under age 18
New Mexico
NMS
66-7-369
New York
V & T 1223
MV 1222
Under age 18
X
Streets
Speed
Seat
Restraints*
X
X
Penalty
$35 to $100 Vehicle operated on
misroads of one lane in
demeanor each direction;
farming or ranching
activities; authorized
parade
People enrolled in
recreational and
religious activities; and
work-related
transportation
$25 for first
offense, $50
for second
All Ages
X
X
X
All ages;
prohibits
more than
one-third of
the occupants
from standing
in or on an
“auto truck”
North
Carolina
GS 20-135.2B
Under age 12
North Dakota
Under age 17
Ohio
ORC 4511.51
Under age 16
Exceptions
$25 nonmoving
violation.
X
25
mph
Emergency situations;
truck bed is
completely enclosed;
tailgate must be closed
Oregon
No law
Under age 18
Rhode Island
31.25.10
Under age 16
Vehicle traveling more
than 35 mph; if cargo
area is enclosed;
parades, hunting and
farming
X
Applies only to
vehicles carrying
passengers for free
This statute is called
"Child Passenger
Restraints Required"
Employee engaged in Bans riding on
the necessary discharge portions of vehicle
of a duty
not intended for
passengers.
Covered under child
passenger restraint
law
If trip is of five miles
If more than five
or less; truck bed has
people under age 18
3-foot-high side racks are in the body of
and a tailgate; and
the truck, at least
entities operating
one adult must be
businesses that serve
present; this law
the public
applies only to
trucks driving a
distance in excess of
five miles
Presence of an adult;
emergency situations;
parades; farming; and
unincorporated areas
with less than 3,500
people
Covered by seat belt
law
Oklahoma
No law
Pennsylvania
75 Pa. C.S.A.
§ 3719
Other Restrictions
$100 to
$500 fine
National Conference of State Legislatures
55
Appendices
Appendix E. State Pickup Truck Laws (continued)
State/
Jurisdiction
South
Carolina
56-5-3900
Prohibited
Highway
Streets
Under age 15
Speed
Seat
Restraints*
35
mph
Penalty
Exceptions
$25
misdemeanor
If an adult is present;
if child is retrained by
seat belt; in emergency
situations; authorized
parade or organized
hayride; hunting or
farming activities; in
county with no city
over 3,500; closed
metal tailgate traveling
under 35 mph
Other Restrictions
South Dakota
No law
Tennessee
TCA
55-8-189
Texas
TRC 545.414
Utah
UCA
41-6-108
Vermont
No law
Under age 12
X
Under age 12
All ages
X
Under age 16
X
West Virginia
17C-15-46
Under age 9
X
Wisconsin
WSA 346.92
All ages
Wisconsin
WSA 346.922
Under age 16
Virginia
§46.2-1156.1
X
20
mph
Class C mis- Parades; ceremonies;
demeanor and farming
35
mph
MisEmergency situations
demeanor;
$25 to $200
Class C mis- Work-related
demeanor activities; sitting on
the flat area
X
Parades and farming
Washington
No law
X
Misdemeanor
$10 to $20
X
X
Covered under child
passenger protection
law
Work-related
activities; if cargo area
is enclosed
Farming; parades;
transportation of
licensed deer hunters
during the authorized
deer hunting season
Wyoming
No law
District of
Columbia
Note:
All ages
Employee on duty;
People riding within
bodies of trucks in
space intended for
merchandise
Seat belt law
requires all
passengers to be
secured by safety
belts, except where
the number of
passengers exceeds
the number of belts
Some states allow passengers in the running bed of pickup trucks if the passengers are restrained by safety devices
on their seats.
Source: NCSL, 2002.
National Conference of State Legislatures
56
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Appendix F. State Drunk Driving Child Endangerment Laws
State/Jurisdiction
Alabama
Citation
§32-5A-191(n)
Alaska
Arizona
none
§§13-604(A), (C) &
(U)(1)(a), 13-701(C),
13-801, & 281383(A)(3), (F), (G)
& (L)(2)
Arkansas
California
none
Veh Code §23572
Colorado
§§18-1-105(1)(a)(III)
& (V)(A), and 18-6401(1), (2), (7)(a)(I)
& (III)
Connecticut
Delaware
none
21 §4177(d)(5)
Provisions
Minimum sentences are double the usual sanction
if an offender over age 21 was transporting a minor
under age 14 at the time of the offense.
A person commits a class 6 felony (aggravated
DUI) if he or she violates the drunk driving laws
while transporting a passenger under age 15.
Sanctions: 1st offense: 1 year; conviction with one
prior felony: 1 to 2.5 years; conviction with two or
more prior felonies: 3 to 4.5 years and fine of
$150,000.
For non-injury offenses where a minor under age
14 was a passenger, the following mandatory jail
sanctions are imposed: 1st offense: 48 continuous
hours; 2nd offense: 10 days; 3rd offense: 30 days; 4th
offense: 90 days. (These sanctions are not imposed
if the driver has been convicted of endangering the
life or health of a child under Penal Code §273a.)
A person is guilty of child abuse if he or she
knowingly or recklessly commits an act that either
kills or injures a child under age 16. A person
commits a class 2 felony where death results from
such abuse and is subject to eight to 24 years in jail
and a fine of $5,000 to $1 million. A person
commits a class 3 felony where injury results from
such abuse and is subject to four to 12 years in jail
and a fine of $3,000 to $750,000. For abuse
resulting in either injury or death, a parole of five
years is mandatory. In People v. Deskins, 927 P.2d
368 (Colo. 1996), it was held that a drunk driver is
guilty of child abuse if he or she kills or injures a
child riding in another vehicle that is involved in a
collision with the offender's vehicle at the time of
the offense.
A person who commits a drunk driving offense
while transporting a child under age 17 is subject to
the following sanctions, in addition to the standard
sanctions for drunk driving offenses: 1st offense: an
additional fine of $230 to $1,150 and 40 hours of
community service benefiting children; for
subsequent offenses: an additional $575 to $2,300
and 80 hours of community service benefiting
children.
National Conference of State Legislatures
57
Appendices
Appendix F. State Drunk Driving Child Endangerment Laws
(continued)
State/Jurisdiction
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Citation
§§316.193(3) & (4),
775.082, 775.083 &
775.084
Provisions
For a drunk driving offense with a passenger under
age 18 in the vehicle, the following sanctions apply:
st
1 offense not more than nine months in jail and a
nd
fine of $500 to $1,000; 2 offense not more than
12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $2,000;
3rd offense not more than 12 months in jail and a
fine of $2,000 to $5,000.
§§16-12-1(d) & 40-6- It is a separate offense to transport a child under age
st
391(1)
14 while drunk. Sanctions: 1 offense
(misdemeanor), jail one to 5 months, fine $200 to
nd
$500; 2 offense (misdemeanor), jail three months
rd
to one year, fine $400 to $1,000; 3 and
subsequent offenses (felony), jail one to three years,
fine $1,000 to $5,000.
§291-4(b)(4)
A driver age 18 or older who is convicted of an
alcohol offense while transporting a passenger
under age 15 is subject to the following additional
sanctions: mandatory jail term of 48 hours (total
jail term not to exceed 30 days) and a mandatory
fine of $500.
§§18-113 & 18It is an offense for a person over age 18 to operate a
1501(3)
motor vehicle in violation of the drunk driving laws
while transporting a minor. If there is no injury or
death associated with the offense, it is a
misdemeanor with a jail term of not more than six
months and/or a fine of not more than $300. If the
minor is injured or killed, it is a felony with
imprisonment of one to 10 years.
625 ILCS 5/11-501(c) If, at the time of the offense, the defendant was
transporting a person under age 16, jail sanctions
st
nd
are enhanced as follows: 1 offense, 2 days; 2
rd
th
offense, 10 days; 3 offense, 30 days; 4 or
st
nd
subsequent offense, 90 days. For a 1 or 2 offense
within five years, a fine of $500 is mandatory. The
defendant also is subject to mandatory community
st
nd
service: 1 offense, five days; 2 offense within five
years, 10 days.
none
§§702.5, 726.3 &
Iowa's criminal law provides for sanctions against
726.6
people who either abuse or neglect a child age 14 or
younger, who is under their control. The Iowa
Supreme Court has held that a parent can be
charged with child neglect, recklessly exposing their
child to a danger, a Class C felony, if, while
transporting their child, they operate a motor
vehicle in an intoxicated condition. (State vs.
Caskey, 539 N.W. 2d 176 (Iowa 1995)). The
possibility also exists that general criminal child
endangerment laws may apply, which make it an
offense to create a situation where a child is exposed
to substantial risk.
National Conference of State Legislatures
58
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Appendix F. State Drunk Driving Child Endangerment Laws
(continued)
State/Jurisdiction
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Citation
none
none
§14:98(J)
Maine
29-A MRSA
§§2451(5), 2472(4),
2411(5)
Maryland
Tran. §27-101(q)
Massachusetts
none
Provisions
A DUI offender is subject to the following
mandatory sanctions if a child age 12 or younger
was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the
st
offense: 1 offense, 10 days in jail and $125 fine;
nd
rd
2 offense, 30 days in jail and $300 fine; 3
th
offense, six months in jail; 4 offense, two years in
jail.
For those over age 21 who refuse to take a breath
test and had a passenger under age 21 in the vehicle
at the time of the refusal, an additional mandatory
275-day license suspension applies. For those
under age 21 who refuse to take a breath test and
had a passenger under age 21 in the vehicle at the
time of the refusal, an additional mandatory 180day license suspension applies. Upon conviction
for DUI, the following mandatory jail terms apply:
st
1 offense, not less than 48 hours (96 hours for
refusal); 2nd offense within 10 years, seven days (12
rd
days for refusal); 3 offense, 30 days (40 days for
th
refusal); 4 or subsequent offenses within 10 years,
six months (six months and 20 days for refusal).
For conviction of an illegal per se drunk driving
offense, while transporting a minor under age 18,
the following sanctions apply: 1st offense, jail not
more than two years and fine not more than
$2,000; 2nd offense, jail not more than three years
and fine not more than $3,000; 3rd and subsequent
offenses, jail not more than four years and fine not
more than $4,000. For conviction of driving under
the influence of alcohol, drugs or a controlled
dangerous substance while transporting a minor
st
under age 18, the following sanctions apply: 1
offense, jail not more than six months and fine not
nd
more than $1,000; 2 offense, jail not more than
one year and fine not more than $2,000.
National Conference of State Legislatures
59
Appendices
Appendix F. State Drunk Driving Child Endangerment Laws
(continued)
State/Jurisdiction
Michigan
Citation
§§257.319(8)(e) &
257.625(7)
Minnesota
§§169.121, subd 3(a)
and 169.1217
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
none
none
none
none
§484.3792(7)
New Hampshire
§265:82-b, VIII
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
none
none
none
Provisions
For conviction of any DUI offense while carrying a
passenger under age 16, the following sanctions
apply: 1st offense (misdemeanor), jail one to five
years (with either mandatory 48 consecutive hours
in jail or 30 days (mandatory) to 90 days of
community service) and a fine of $200 to $1,000
and license suspension of 180 days (90 days
mandatory); for subsequent offenses within seven
years (felony): one to five years in jail or with
probation, 30 days (48 consecutive hours
mandatory) to one year in jail and community
service for 60 to 180 days, and a fine of $500 to
$5,000. For conviction of the .02 (zero tolerance)
law by those under age 21, while carrying a
passenger under age 16, the following sanctions
st
apply: 1 offense, not more than 93 days in jail,
not more than 60 days community service, a fine of
not more than $500, and license suspension of not
more than 180 days (90 days mandatory); for
subsequent offenses, jail of five days to one year (48
consecutive hours mandatory), community service
for 30 to 90 days, and a fine of $200 to $1,000.
For either type of violation, vehicle forfeiture or
immobilization sanctions also may apply.
Driving while intoxicated with a child under age 16
in the vehicle, where the driver was at least 36
months older than the child, is a gross
misdemeanor. In addition to the standard penalties
for a DUI-related gross misdemeanor, the vehicle
used in the offense may be subject to forfeiture.
If a child age 15 or younger was present in the
vehicle at the time of the DUI offense, such fact
shall be considered an aggravating factor when
determining sentence.
If the DUI offender was transporting a person
under age 16 at the time of the offense, the offender
must have his or her driving privileges revoked for
the maximum time period provided by law.
National Conference of State Legislatures
60
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Appendix F. State Drunk Driving Child Endangerment Laws
(continued)
State/Jurisdiction
North Carolina
Citation
§20-179
North Dakota
§§12.1-32-1 & 3908-01.4
Ohio
§§2919.22, 2929.14,
2929.18 & 2929.21
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
none
none
none
§31-27-2(d)(4)
Provisions
Upon conviction, the level of punishment is
determined by weighing aggravating and mitigating
factors (child endangerment is an aggravating
factor), with Level 1 being more severe punishment
and Level 2 being less severe sanctions. The court
must impose Level 2 punishment if there was a
child under age 16 riding with the offender at the
time of the offense. The court must impose Level 1
punishment if there was a child under age 16 riding
with the offender at the time of the offense and
there was any additional aggravating factor
involved.
It is a Class A misdemeanor, with a jail term for not
more than one year and /or a fine of not more than
$1,000, for a person age 21 or older to commit a
drunk driving offense while transporting a minor
(the specific age is not defined in the law but
generally defined in N.D. to be anyone under age
18).
It is a separate offense to operate a motor vehicle in
violation of the drunk driving laws while carrying a
st
passenger who is under age 18. Sanctions: 1
st
offense (1 degree misdemeanor), imprisonment for
not more than six months and/or a fine of not more
st
than $1,000; on a 1 offense where there has been
serious physical harm to the child or for subsequent
th
offenses (5 degree felony), imprisonment of six to
12 months and /or a fine of not more than $2,500;
subsequent child endangerment offense where there
has been serious physical harm to the child or
where there has been serious harm to the child and
the offender has a prior drunk driving conviction
th
(4 degree felony), imprisonment of six to 18
months and/or a fine of not more than $5,000. In
addition to the above, offenders are subject to not
more than 200 hours of community service, which
is not in lieu of community services that may be
imposed via probation, and license suspension for
90 days, which is consecutive to any other licensing
action.
An offender who is over age 18 is subject to an
imprisonment term of not more than one year if he
or she was transporting a passenger under age 13 at
the time of the offense.
National Conference of State Legislatures
61
Appendices
Appendix F. State Drunk Driving Child Endangerment Laws
(continued)
State/Jurisdiction
South Carolina
Citation
§56-5-2947
South Dakota
Tennessee
none
§§40-35-111(b)(3) &
(4), 40-35-111(e)(1)
& 55-10-414
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
none
none
none
§18.2-270
Washington
none
Provisions
A person over age 18 who commits either a drunk
driving offense or a death/serious bodily injury
drunk driving offense while transporting a child
under age 16 is subject to additional jail and fine
sanctions that are equal to not more than half the
maximum jail and fine sanctions for these offenses.
These additional sanctions are mandatory if jail or
fine sanctions have been imposed for the original
offense. In addition, the offender's driving
privileges must be suspended for 60 days.
A person commits a class A misdemeanor if he or
she commit a drunk driving offense and at the time
was accompanied by a child under age 13.
Sanctions: jail term of not more than 11 months
and 29 days (30 days are mandatory) and a fine of
not more than $2,500 ($1,000 is mandatory). If
the child was injured at the time of the offense, the
person commits a Class D felony. Sanctions: jail
term of two to 12 years and a fine of not more than
$5,000. If the child was killed at the time of the
offense, the person commits a Class C felony.
Sanctions: jail term of three to 15 years and a fine
of not more than $10,000.
A person convicted of a drunk driving offense while
carrying a child age 17 or younger is subject to the
st
following additional sanctions: 1 offense, a fine of
$500 to $1,000 ($500 mandatory) and 40 hours of
mandatory community service benefiting children;
for subsequent offenses, a fine of $500 to $1,000
($500 mandatory) and 80 hours of mandatory
community service benefiting children. Under
Commonwealth vs. Carter, 462 S.E.2d 582 (Va.App.
1995), a drunk driving offender who operates a
motor vehicle while transporting a child under age
18 may be subject to prosecution for child abuse
and neglect under §18.2-371.1.
National Conference of State Legislatures
62
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Appendix F. State Drunk Driving Child Endangerment Laws
(continued)
State/Jurisdiction
West Virginia
Citation
§§17C-5-2(I) & 17C5A-2(m)
Wisconsin
§§343.305(10)(b)(4m
), 343.31(3)(f),
346.65(2)(f) & (3),
343.31(3)(c) and
940.09(1b)
Wyoming
American Samoa
District of Columbia
Guam
Puerto Rico
Virgin Islands
none
none
none
none
none
none
Provisions
A person who violates the drunk driving law while
transporting a child under age 16 commits a
misdemeanor and is subject to a jail term of two
days to 12 months (48 hours mandatory) and/or a
fine of $200 to $1,000 ($200 mandatory). A
person who violates the administrative per se law
while transporting a child under age 16 is subject to
a mandatory two-year license revocation. If the
person has a previous administrative per se
suspension or revocation within 10 years, the
revocation period is 10 years (mandatory); if the
person has more than one previous administrative
per se suspension or revocation within 10 years, the
revocation period is for life (mandatory).
For refusal to take an implied consent breath test
while transporting a child under age 16 at the time
of the refusal offense, the minimum and maximum
license revocation periods are doubled. For
conviction of a drunk driving offense while
transporting a child under age 16 at the time of the
offense, the offender's drivers license is revoked for
four years. For conviction of either injury or noninjury drunk driving offenses while transporting a
child under age 16 at the time of the offense, the
maximum and minimum imprisonment, forfeiture
and fine sanctions are doubled. For conviction of
homicide by vehicle while transporting a child
under age 16 at the time of the offense, the
maximum imprisonment and fine sanctions are
doubled and the revocation period is 10 years.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Digest of State AlcoholHighway Safety Related Legislation, 19th edition. January 2001.
National Conference of State Legislatures
63
Appendices
Appendix G. State Graduated Licensing Laws
State/Jurisdiction
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Learner Stage with a
Mandatory Holding Period
of at Least 6 Months
Learner Stage with a
Minimum Amount of
Supervised Driving
Required
Intermediate Stage with
a Nighttime Driving
Restriction
X
X
X
X
X
X*
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X*
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X*
X
X
X
X
National Conference of State Legislatures
64
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
Appendix G. State Graduated Licensing Laws (continued)
State/Jurisdiction
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
District of
Columbia
Learner Stage with a
Mandatory Holding Period
of at Least 6 Months
X
X
X
X
X
Learner Stage with a
Minimum Amount of
Supervised Driving
Required
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
*Driver’s education class reduces the requirement.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and NCSL, 2002.
National Conference of State Legislatures
Intermediate Stage with
a Nighttime Driving
Restriction
X
X
X
X
X
65
Notes
NOTES
2. Occupant Protection
1. Airbags, http://www.iihs.org/safety_facts/qanda/airbags.htm, December 2000.
2. Air Bags and On-Off Switches: Information for an Informed Decision, http://
www.nhtsa.dot.gov/airbags/brochure, 1997.
3. “Quick Facts—Pickup Truck Falls and Ejections,” Injury Control Alberta (Alberta
Centre for Injury Control and Research, Alberta, Canada) 1, no. 11 (July 1999).
3. Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Issues
1. “Safe Routes to School fact sheet, California Department of Health Services and
Surface Transportation Policy Project,” http://www.transact.org/ca; World Wide Web.
2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Fatality Facts: Bicycles, http://
www.hwysafety.org/facts/bike.htm, World Wide Web.
3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, State Legislative Fact Sheet: Bicycle Helmet Use Laws, http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov; World Wide Web.
4. Surface Transportation Policy Project, http://www.transact.org.
5. American Academy of Pediatrics, http://www.aap.org.
4. Getting to School Safely on the Bus
1. NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts 2001: Children, http://www.nrd-nhtsa.dot.gov.
2. National Transportation Safety Board, Highway Special Investigation Report: Bus
Crashworthiness Issues (Washington, D.C.: NTSB, September 1999).
3. “What Policymakers Need to Know about Cost Effectiveness,” http.www.prevent.org.
National Conference of State Legislatures
65
66
Protecting Children: A Guide to Child Traffic Safety Laws
5. Child Endangerment and Drunk Driving
1. Lewis H. Margolis; Robert D. Foss; William G. Tolbert, “Alcohol and Motor Vehicle–Related Deaths of Children as Passengers, Pedestrians, and Bicyclists,” Journal of the
American Medical Association (2000) 283: 2245-2248.
2. Kyran P. Quinlan; Robert D. Brewer; David A. Sleet; Ann M. Dellinger, “Characteristics of Child Passenger Deaths and Injuries Involving Drinking Drivers” Journal of the
American Medical Association (2000) 283: 2249-2252.
3. Margolis, Foss and Tolbert, ibid.
National Conference of State Legislatures
67
References
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Child Passenger Safety Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Http://
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choosing_schoolbus/pre-school-bus_01.html; World Wide Web.
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a Model Law Restricting the Transporting of Passengers in the Cargo Areas of Pickup
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Cote, Timothy R., et al. “Bicycle Helmet Use Among Maryland Children: Effect of
Legislation and Education.” Pediatrics 89, no. 6 (June 6, 1992): 1216-1220.
Dictionary of Child Safety Seat Terms. NHTSA. Http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/
childps/csr2001/csrhtml/glossary.html; World Wide Web.
Education and Enforcement. Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Http://
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Edwards, Jack, and Charles P. Compton. Child Injuries and Fatalities: Who Is Behind the
Wheel? Ann Arbor, Mich.: Ford Motor Company and University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, June 2000.
Edwards, Jack, and Kaye Sullivan. Where Are All the Children Seated and When Are They
Restrained? Washington, D.C.: Society of Automotive Engineers, 1997.
Examples of State Child Passenger Safety Activities. Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Http://www.stipda.org/s-pubs/statecss/oh-css.htm; World Wide Web.
Fatality Analysis Recording System. NHTSA. Http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov; World Wide
Web.
Fatality Facts: Bicycles. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Http://www.hwysafety.org/
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safety_facts/fatality_facts/children.htm; World Wide Web.
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National Conference of State Legislatures
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References
Graham, Ginnie. “School Bus Crashes Put Focus on Seat Belts.” Tulsa World (Feb. 28,
1999).
Goehring, Janet B. Teens and Traffic: Reducing the Risk. Denver, Colo.: National Conference of State Legislatures, 1999.
“How State Laws Measure Up.” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Status Report 35, no.
10 (Dec. 20, 2000).
Kahne, Charles J. An Evaluation of Child Passenger Safety: The Effectiveness and Benefits of
Safety Seats. NHTSA. Http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/regrev/evaluate/
806890.html; World Wide Web.
LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety
Inc. Http://www.actsinc.org/childpass-7.html; World Wide Web.
Margolis, Lewis H.; Robert D. Foss; and William G. Tolbert. “Alcohol and Motor Vehicle–
Related Deaths of Children as Passengers, Pedestrians, and Bicyclists.” Journal of the
American Medical Association 283, no. 17-20 (May 3, 2000): 2245-2248.
Motor Vehicle Occupant Injury: Strategies for Use of Child Safety Seats, Increasing Use of Safety
Belts and Reducing Alcohol-Impaired Driving. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Http://www.cdc/gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5007a1.htm; World Wide
Web.
National Association of Governors’ Highway Safety Representatives. Survey of the States.
Washington, D.C.: NAGHSR, November 1998.
National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. “Youth Riding in
Pickup Truck Cargo Areas.” Rural Youth Injury Highlight. Http://
research.marshfieldclinic.org/children/Resources/Vehicles/KidsandPickups.htm; World
Wide Web.
National Conference of State Legislatures. Prevention Projects Program. Physical Activity
and Walkable Communities. Denver: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2001.
NHTSA Standardized Child Passenger Safety Technician Training and Certification Programs
and Related Programs. Background: Patterns for Life and the Need for Standardized Training. NHTSA. Http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/Training/CPSQandA;
World Wide Web.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Driver Characteristics and Impairment at
Various BACs. Washington, D.C.: NHTSA, August 2000.
———. The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2000. DOT HS 809 446. Washington, D.C.: NHTSA, May 2002.
———. Presidential Initiative for Increasing Seat Belt Use Nationwide. Washington, D.C.:
NHTSA, September 1998.
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———. Standard Enforcement Saves Lives: The Case for Strong Seat Belt Laws. Washington,
D.C.: NHTSA, January 1999.
———. Summary of Vehicle Occupant Protection Laws. Washington, D.C.: NHTSA, January 1999.
———. Traffic Safety Facts 2001—Children. DOT HS 809 471. Washington, D.C.:
NHTSA, 2002.
———. Traffic Safety Facts 2001—Pedestrians. DOT HS 809 478. Washington, D.C.:
NHTSA, 2002.
———. Traffic Safety Facts 2001—School Transportation-Related Crashes. DOT HS 809
479. Washington, D.C.: NHTSA, 2002.
National SAFE KIDS. Child Passengers at Risk in America: A National Rating of Child Occupant Protection Laws. Washington, D.C.: NSK, February 2001.
National Safety Council. Operation ABC Mobilization Zero Tolerance for Unbuckled Children. Washington, D.C.: NSC, July 1999.
———. Mired in Mediocrity: A Nationwide Report Card on Driver and Passenger Safety.
Washington, D.C.: NSC, May 2001.
———. Injury Facts. Washington, D.C.: NSC, 2000.
National Transportation Safety Board. Putting Children First. NTSB/SR-00/02. Washington, D.C.: NTSB, November 2000.
———. Highway Special Investigation Report: Bus Crashworthiness Issues. NTSB/SIR-99/
04. Washington, D.C.: NTSB, September 1999.
———. The Performance and Use of Child Restraint Systems, Seatbelts, and Airbags for Children in Passenger Vehicles, Volume 1. NTSB/SS-96/01. Washington, D.C.: NTSB,
September 1996.
———. The Performance and Use of Child Restraint Systems, Seatbelts, and Airbags for Children in Passenger Vehicles, Volume 2. NTSB/SS-96/02. Washington, D.C.: NTSB,
September 1996.
Occupant Protection Fact Sheets. NHTSA. Http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/buses/
GTSS/factoccupant.html; World Wide Web.
One Minute Safety Seat Checklist. NHTSA. Http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/
ChildSS/OneMinuteChecklist/Index.html; World Wide Web.
Partnership for Prevention. What Policymakers Need to Know About Cost Effectiveness. Washington, D.C.: Partnership for Prevention, Fall 2001.
National Conference of State Legislatures
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References
Pedestrian: Protecting Your Family. National SAFE KIDS. Http://www.safekids.org/
tier3_cd.cfm?content_item_id=330&folder_id=175; World Wide Web.
Pedestrian Safety Fact Sheets. NHTSA. Http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/buses/GTSS/
factpedestrian.html; World Wide Web.
Policy Statement: School Transportation Safety. American Academy of Pediatrics. Http://
www.aap.org/policy/1350.html; World Wide Web.
“Preventing Obesity Among Children.” Chronic Disease Notes and Reports 13, no. 1 (Winter 2000): 1-3.
Quinlan, Kyran P.; Robert D. Brewer; David A. Sleet; and Ann M. Dellinger. “Characteristics of Child Passenger Deaths and Injuries Involving Drinking Drivers.” Journal of
the American Medical Association 283 (2000): 2249-2252.
Reed, James B. “Primary Enforcement of Seat Belt Laws,” LegisBrief (National Conference
of State Legislatures) 6, no. 38 (October 1998).
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Safety Countermeasures Division: Pedestrian Safety. NHTSA. Http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/
people/injury/pedbimot/bike/NewsletterRevised_Fall2001/pedestrian.html; World
Wide Web.
Savage, Melissa A. “Walking Away—Safe.” State Legislatures (National Conference of State
Legislatures) 27, no. 10 (December 2001): 31-34.
Savage, Melissa A., et al. “State Traffic Safety Legislative Update 2000.” Transportation
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Scheidt, Peter C., Modena H. Wilson; and Melvin S. Stern. “Bicycle Helmet Law for
Children: A Case Study of Activism in Injury Control.” Pediatrics 89, no. 6 (June 6,
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Vehicle Crashes Among 16-year-old Drivers.” Journal of the American Medical Association, no. 13 (Oct. 3, 2001): 1593.
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State Farm Insurance Companies and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Partners for
Child Passenger Safety: Interim Report 2000. Philadelphia, Pa.: State Farm, 2000.
“State Laws: Few Are Being Improved to Enhance Safety.” Insurance Institute for Highway
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Thompson, Robert S.; Frederick P. Rivara; and Diane C. Thompson. “A Case-Control
Study of the Effectiveness of Bicycle Safety Helmets.” The New England Journal of
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Resources
RESOURCES
Airbag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign
1025 Connecticut Avenue N.W., Suite 1200
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: (202) 625-2570
Fax: (202) 822-1399
E-mail: airbag@nsc.org
World Wide Web: http://www.nsc.org/airbag.htm.
Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
4611 Seventh Street South
Arlington, Va. 22204-1419
Phone and fax: (703) 486-0100
World Wide Web: http://www.bhsi.org.
Boost America!
Phone: (1-866) BoostKid
World Wide Web: http://www.boostamerica.org.
E-mail: info@boostamerica.org.
Fit for a Kid
Phone: (1-877) Fit-4-AKID
World Wide Web: http://www.fitforakid.org.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
1005 North Glebe Road, Suite 800
Arlington, Va. 22201
Phone: (703) 247-1500
Fax: (703) 247-1588
World Wide Web: http://www.highwaysafety.org.
Governors Highway Safety Association
750 First Street, N.E., Suite 720
Washington D.C. 20002
Phone: 202-789-0942
World Wide Web: http://www.naghsr.org.
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National Bicycle Safety Network
World Wide Web: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/bike.
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
4770 Buford Highway N.E. Mailstop K65
Atlanta, Ga. 30341-3724
Phone: (770) 488-1506
Fax: (770) 488-1667
E-mail: OHCINFO@cdc.gov.
World Wide Web: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/default.htm.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20590
Phone: (1-800) 424-9393
World Wide Web: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
National Safe Kids Campaign
1301 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Suite 1000
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: (202) 662-0600
Fax: (202) 393-2072.
World Wide Web: http://www.safekids.org.
National Safety Council
1121 Spring Lake Drive
Itasca, Ill. 60143-3201
Phone: (630) 285-1121
Fax: (630) 285-1315
World Wide Web: http://www.nsc.org.
National Transportation Safety Board
490 L’Enfant Plaza, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20594
Phone: (202) 314-6000
World Wide Web: http://www.ntsb.gov.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
730 Airport Road, Suite 300
Campus Box 3430
Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599-3430
Phone: (919) 962-2203
Fax: (919) 962-8710
E-mail: pedbike@willow.hsrc.unc.edu.
World Wide Web: http://www.walkinginfo.org.
National Conference of State Legislatures
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