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Use of Child Safety Seats: Distribution and Education Programs

Child safety seat distribution and education programs provide child safety seats to parents through a loan, low-cost rental or giveaway of an approved safety seat. Programs also include an educational component. They target parents and other caregivers who are experiencing financial hardship or do not understand the importance of getting and using a safety seat.

Summary of Task Force Recommendations and Findings

The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends  interventions that use distribution and education programs based on strong evidence of their effectiveness in increasing child safety seat use. 

Task Force Finding


Results from the Systematic Review

Ten studies qualified for the systematic review.

  • Proper use of safety seats: median increase of 23 percentage points (interquartile interval: 4 to 62 percentage points; 10 studies)
  • Possession of safety seats: median increase of 51% (range: 16% to 93%; 5 studies)
  • Distribution programs were effective when conducted in hospitals and clinics, as part of postnatal home visits, and when provided by an auto insurance company.
  • Effectiveness of these programs was found among urban, suburban, and rural populations, and among affluent and poor populations.

These results are based on a systematic review of all available studies led by scientists from the Community Guide and CDC's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention with input from a team of specialists in systematic review methods and experts in research, practice and policy related to increasing child safety seat use.

Supporting Materials


Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Motor-vehicle occupant injury: strategies for increasing use of child safety seats, increasing use of safety belts, and reducing alcohol-impaired driving. MMWR. Recommendations and Reports 2001;50(RR07):1-13. External Web Site Icon

Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Recommendations to reduce injuries to motor vehicle occupants: increasing child safety seat use, increasing safety belt use, and reducing alcohol-impaired driving. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 78 kB] Am J Prev Med 2001;21(4S):16–22.

Zaza S, Sleet DA, Thompson RS, et al. Reviews of evidence regarding interventions to increase use of child safety seats. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 2.44 MB] Am J Prev Med 2001;21(4S): 31-47.

Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Motor vehicle occupant injuries. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 355 kB] In : Zaza S, Briss PA, Harris KW, eds. The Guide to Community Preventive Services: What Works to Promote Health? Atlanta (GA): Oxford University Press;2005:329-84.

Read other Community Guide publications about Motor Vehicle-Related Injury Prevention in our library.


The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC. Task Force evidence-based recommendations are not mandates for compliance or spending. Instead, they provide information and options for decision makers and stakeholders to consider when determining which programs, services, and policies best meet the needs, preferences, available resources, and constraints of their constituents.

Sample Citation

The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Citation as to source, however, is appreciated. Sample citation: Guide to Community Preventive Services. Use of child safety seats: distribution and education programs. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.

Review completed: June 1998