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Child Passenger Safety

In Texas, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for children ages 15 and under. The Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital care about the safety of you and your child. Here are some recommended safety tips to protect you and your child while riding in a motor vehicle.

When installed and used correctly, child safety seats and safety belts can reduce injury and save lives. It is estimated that four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly. Certified technicians provide complimentary car seat inspections and instruction. To find a car seat inspection station nearest you, visit the NHTSA website.

Rear-facing car seats

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants and toddlers should be ride in a rear-facing infant or convertible seat until at least 2 years of age.
  • Children are up to five times safer in rear-facing seats than front facing seats. The seat will take on the force of the crash, and not the child’s body.
  • When children reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their infant seat, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible seat. The seat should be used in rear-facing position until your child reaches the weight or height limit of the seat.
  • Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat in front of an airbag.

Forward-facing car seats

  • Young children should ride in a car safety seat with a 5-point harness until at least the age of 4 and at least 40 pounds.
  • It is recommended to keep the child in the 5-point harness until they reach the weight limit for the harness, unless their height exceeds the seat’s limit, then they must be moved to a booster seat or to a seat with a higher height limit.

Booster seats

  • School-aged children should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until at least the age of 8 or until they are 4 feet 9 inches.

Safety tips for children in and around vehicles

  • All children under the age of 13 should ride in the rear-seats of vehicles on every ride.
  • Everyone in the vehicle, regardless of age, should use a seat belt on every ride.
  • Secure all loose items or remove them. These items can cause injury to you and your child in the event of a crash.
  • Never leave an infant or child alone in a vehicle. Temperatures can reach deadly levels in minutes; also the child can be strangled by power windows or knock the car in gear. Always take your child with you no matter what amount of time you plan to be away from your car.
  • Upon entering any vehicle, walk around the vehicle to check for children, pets or items behind it.
  • Hold your child’s hand in parking lots and driveways to prevent them from getting backed over by a vehicle.

Safe riders program

In Texas, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for children ages 14 and under. In 2012, 210 motor vehicle fatalities occurred in Texas among children 14 and under (TXDOT, 2012). According to Safe Kids Worldwide, in the United States each year approximately 1,800 children ages 14 and under are killed as occupants in motor vehicles and more than 280,000 are injured Half of the children that died were unrestrained (no safety belt or child restraint).

Safe Riders program participant

Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital is a participant in the Safe Riders Child Safety Seat Distribution and Education Program. Safe Riders coordinates a statewide child safety seat distribution and education program. The goal of the program is to increase use of child safety seats and consequently decrease the number child injuries and fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes. This is accomplished by working with a variety of local community groups, who in turn offer community education classes in which a family can receive a new child safety seat and instruction on how to use the seat properly.

Program registration

Parents interested in participating in the program should call Safe Riders toll-free at 1 (800) 252-8255, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Qualifying parents will be referred to a program in their area of Texas to contact in order to get scheduled for the next available child safety seat class. Seats are not always available in every area of the state and programs do not always have a supply of seats.

Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and the Red Duke Trauma Institute are proud to offer this program to Houstonians and hopefully decrease the number of child injuries and fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes.

Learn more

Learn more about the Safe Riders program on the Texas Department of State Health Services website »

Contact us

For information on Injury Prevention, email our Injury Prevention Coordinators at traumaprevention@memorialhermann.org.