In the United States, the rate of vehicle occupant deaths in children aged 1 to 3 years has decreased by over 50% in the past three decades. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death in children aged 1 to 17 years. Parental compliance with child safety seats is poor, with up to 99% of children in certain age groups improperly restrained. Epidemiologic data support the proper use of automobile restraint systems to save lives. When appropriate restraint systems (based on age and weight) are used, a significant decrease occurs in the rates of mortality and serious injury. Legislation and public service campaigns can increase awareness regarding appropriate use of automobile restraint systems to decrease pediatric injury and fatality rates. Fluency and awareness, rather than cost, have been found to be the main reasons for improper use of automobile restraint systems; appropriately targeted education programs should continue to be developed. Physicians are optimally poised to educate patients and parents about automobile safety.

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