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Airbags, Car seats, Child passenger safety, Child safety seats, Occupant safety, Seat belts



  1. Kamerling, Susan Nudelman MSN, RN, CCRN


Countless numbers of young lives are lost each year due to motor vehicle crashes. One of the most effective means of reducing the number of children killed and injured as occupants in motor vehicles is through the use of child passenger restraints. Seat belts and child safety seats save lives and reduce the severity of injuries sustained by occupants in motor vehicle crashes. Nurses are in a unique position to educate and influence families on the proper way to safely transport all motor vehicle passengers. Therefore, nurses working with infants, children, and families have a moral and professional obligation to understand the basics of child passenger safety. At the very least, nurses should be able to direct families appropriately for specifics related to child passenger restraints.


The intent of this article is to provide an overview of child passenger safety through a historical, theoretical, and clinical approach. Proper child restraint use is reviewed based on current recommendations for age and size. The potential hazards of child restraint misuse, with an in-depth discussion on airbags, is presented. The discussion on airbags serves to dispel any misconceptions that may be held about airbags. The article includes two case studies that illustrate the injury potential of relatively common misuse patterns. The clinical implications for maternal-child nurses include the recognition that child passenger deaths are primarily due to child restraint nonuse and misuse and the realization of nursing's role in the promotion of proper child passenger restraint.