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Motor Vehicle Safety

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in Arkansas for children and youth ages 1-19. (1999-2007, CDC) Many of these deaths and injuries can be prevented. The Injury Prevention Center offers programs to educate parents on the importance of motor vehicle safety. Please select an age group below to learn more about motor vehicle safety for children and teens.

For more information on the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children's Hospital, call (501) 364-3400 or email us at injuryprevention@archildrens.org.

Tips for Age Groups

Birth to 4 Years of Age

Child Passenger Safety Education Program

The correct and consistent use of car seats can reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children stay rear-facing in their car seats until the age of 2 or until a child reaches the upper weight and height limits of his car seat. Children should then stay forward-facing until they reach their seat’s upper weight and height limits for that position.

The CPS Education program at the Injury Prevention Center offers several services for the public to save lives and prevent injuries of children in motor vehicle crashes.

Current activities of the Child Passenger Safety Education program include:

  • Providing educational workshops on the basics of child passenger safety.
  • Conducting National Highway Traffic Safety Administration child passenger training courses to train CPS technicians.
  • Loaning child safety seats to parents and caregivers.
  • Conducting child safety seat check ups for parents and caregivers to ensure correct installation of child seats.
  • Coordinating a statewide child safety seat distribution program for communities with certified CPS technicians. This distribution program provides seed resources to organizations that have or are establishing CPS activities or have opportunities to access children from vulnerable populations throughout the state.
  • Funding for the CPS program originates with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is administered through the Highway Safety Office of the Arkansas State Police.
Visit the Arkansas CPS website at www.carseatsar.org to learn about becoming a child passenger safety technician, review upcoming child passenger safety courses available and find a CPS technician or check-up event in your area.

Need to have your seat checked? Contact the Injury Prevention Center at (501) 364-3400.

Helpful Resources for Parents/Caregivers

4 - 8 Years of Age

Child Passenger Safety (CPS)

State law requires that a child be in a booster seat until they are at least 6 years of age and 60 pounds. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that a child remain in a booster seat until they are at least 8 years of age, 80 pounds or 4' 9" tall. Booster seats raise a child up so the seat belt will fit the child and provide a safe ride. The longer you can keep your child in a booster seat the better. Children ages 4-8 are 45 percent less likely to receive injuries in a car crash if a booster seat is used as opposed to seat belt alone. (Arbogast KB, 2009)

How do I know when my child is safe to ride without a booster seat?
If you can answer YES to ALL five of the following questions, then your child should be ready to stop using a booster seat and start using just the seat belt. Keep your child in a booster if the answer is NO to any of these questions.

  1. Can the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?
  2. When sitting all the way back in the seat, do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat?
  3. Is the lap belt on the top part of the child's thighs?
  4. Is the shoulder belt centered on the child's chest and shoulders? **Never put the shoulder belt behind the child. If it is too high and goes across their neck or face, they need to be in a booster seat.
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the entire trip?
Visit the Arkansas CPS website at www.carseatsar.org to learn about becoming a child passenger safety technician, review upcoming child passenger safety courses available and find a CPS technician or check-up event in your area.

Need to have your seat checked? Contact the Injury Prevention Center at (501) 364-3400.

Helpful Resources for Parents/Caregivers

8 - 14 Years of Age

Motor Vehicle Safety for Tweens

Children under the age of 13 are safest riding in the back seat, away from air bags. For children 16 and younger, riding in the back seat lowers the risk of injury by 40 percent. (Durbin DR, 2005)

Parents should discuss with their “tween”ager why wearing a seat belt on every trip is important. Parents and tweens can also talk about being a mature passenger by not creating distractions for a driver.

Helpful Resources for Parents/Caregivers

  • www.countdown2drive.org - Safe Kids driving program which encourages young teens to start talking about safe, responsible driving before teen gets behind the wheel.

14 Years of Age & Older

Safer Teen Driving

Driving means FREEDOM to teens. While learning to drive is a big step toward becoming an adult, keep in mind that teens are not yet adults. New teen drivers need time and practice to be safe behind the wheel. In Arkansas, teens die in car crashes at a higher rate than the United States as a whole. We can protect teens and others on the road by guiding teens through a step-by-step approach to safer driving. Arkansas has a graduated driver licensing (GDL) law that limits nighttime driving, restricts cell phone use and limits the number of passengers allowed for teen drivers.

Safer Teen Driving Coalition

The Safer Teen Driving coalition includes members in the fields of education, health care, law enforcement, insurance, safety and parent advocacy. The members work together to reduce injury and death for teen drivers. Through the efforts of this coalition, the Injury Prevention Center offers safer teen driving programs targeting teens, parents and law enforcement.

Arkansas Drive Smart Challenge

The Arkansas Drive Smart Challenge is a youth led program where schools compete to demonstrate safe driving behaviors such wearing seat belts and not using cell phones. Supported by The Allstate Foundation in Pulaski County and FedEx Freight in northern Arkansas, teens in the Drive Smart Challenge educate their peers through interactive school activities. The teens also provide outreach to parents and relay messages from law enforcement. Activities are documented in scrapbooks and on the Drive Smart Challenge Facebook page.

Helpful Resources for Parents & Caregivers

General Information:
501-364-3400

Toll Free:
1-866-611-3445

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