Effects of child restraint laws on traffic fatalities in eleven states

Alexander C. Wagenaar, Daniel W. Webster, Richard G. Maybee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mandatory child restraint laws in 11 states were evaluated for their effect on motor vehicle fatality rates among young children. Data from 1976 through 1983 were analyzed using a monthly time-series design involving 54 months’ pre-law and 12 months’ post-law data. The 11 states collectively had a mean of 8.8 and a standard deviation of 3.6 fatalities per month among young children. Such small frequency counts resulted in a large proportion of the variation being random. Statistical power analyses found fatality reductions of 20% to 25% following the child restraint laws would be statistically significant. Reductions of such a magnitude were not found for young children. Based on these findings, we recommend that evaluations of highway safety policies focusing on a specific age group within a single state not be limited to analyses of traffic fatalities alone. Studies employing analyses of the larger numbers of crash-induced injuries have identified modest but important casualty reductions not found when analyzing fatalities alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-732
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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