AAA Survey Reveals “Boost” in Car Seat Compliance

Revised recommendations prompt one third of parents to make changes

Phoenix, Ariz., March 23, 2012. One year after the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) announced its updated car seat recommendations, a AAA survey reveals that outreach efforts are working and parents are getting the message. More than 90 percent of parents with a child under 13 reported being aware of the new guidelines, many having heard of the change from their child’s pediatrician.

By advising parents to keep toddlers rear-facing until age two, or until reaching the maximum height and weight for the seat, and recommending that older children between eight and 12 remain in a belt-positioning booster seat until 4 feet 9 inches tall, the AAP reinforced what safety groups have long advocated. According to AAA’s survey, parents heeded the group’s advice, with one in three (35 percent) changing the way their children under 13 ride in the car.

“It’s encouraging to find that many parents are aware of the recommendations and are taking these safety interventions seriously,” said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “We hope that Arizona lawmakers will also recognize the life saving benefits of these guidelines and vote in favor of HB 2154 which would enact a booster seat law in our state.”

According to AAA’s survey, when parents with a child under two were asked why they had not made a change based on the new recommendations, 82 percent reported no change was needed as they were already meeting or exceeding the new guidelines. Other reasons commonly cited included:

  • Parents said their child was uncomfortable or unwilling to sit rear-facing.
  • Parents’ reluctance to return a child to a rear-facing position after “graduating” to a forward-facing seat.
  • The belief that the new recommendations were unnecessary.

With car seat manufacturers offering a wide array of car seats designed to accommodate larger toddlers in a rear-facing position, AAA reminds parents that the safety benefits of keeping children rear-facing far outweigh the convenience of a forward-facing seat.

Studies show that children are five times less likely to be injured in a crash when they are properly restrained in a rear-facing car seat. In addition, the use of a booster seat compared to an adult seat belt reduces the risk of child injuries by 59 percent if involved in a crash.

“Seat belts are designed for adults and do not typically fit children until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall,” said Gorman. “Graduating a child from a booster seat too soon may result in injury, or even death, in the event of a crash.”

AAA developed a series of informational videos in which experts walk parents step-by-step through the new car seat and booster seat guidelines as well as proper seat belt use. With three out of four child safety seats not properly installed, consulting an expert can be critical to ensure that children are secured in the safest manner possible. AAA Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians are available to help parents with their car seat installation. http://www.az.aaa.com/news/traffic/ChildSafety.htm.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services more than 800,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Emergency Road Service responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on the streets and highways of the state as well as providing insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. In 2008, AAA was ranked the No. 1 “socially responsible” brand by Landor’s BrandAsset® Valuator.