Adults' knowledge about the use of child restraint devices

M. T. Ruffin, R. Kantor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Injuries are the number one cause of morbidity and mortality among children age 14 and younger in the United States, and motor vehicle crashes account for most of these injuries. Although child restraint devices (CRDs) have been shown to protect children involved in motor vehicle crashes, only minimal decreases in mortality and morbidity have occurred since their introduction. This study evaluated the accuracy and sources of adult knowledge about CRDs. Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was completed by patients at a community-based family practice clinic to obtain demographic information, assess knowledge of recommendations for CRD use, and identify sources of this knowledge. Results: Of the 368 participants, 36% were men, 52% were women, and 12% did not indicate gender. The frequencies of correct responses on positioning infants younger than nine months of age and weighing less than 20 lbs in a CRD were: upright, 47%; rear middle-seat location, 22%; and rear facing, 54%. For toddlers older than nine months who weighed more than 20 lbs, the frequencies of correct responses on positioning were: using a booster seat plus a seat belt, 71%; rear-middle location, 17%; and front facing, 66%. In addition, only 42% of the respondents correctly identified the booster seat as not crash-test certified, and 44% indicated that a CRD should not be reused after an accident. The majority of respondents indicated that the year of manufacture was important and that loose objects in the car were not safe. TV/radio (51%), newspaper/magazine (41%), and relatives (31%) were the most common sources of information about CRD use. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that a lack of knowledge about CRD use among adults contributes to improper use of these devices. This may explain the minimal effect CRD use has had on reducing morbidity and mortality of children from motor vehicle crashes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-385
Number of pages4
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Family Practice


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