Survey of Car Seat Usage, Knowledge, and Attitudes

Principal Investigator: John Bolte, PhD, The Ohio State University

Below is an executive summary of this project. Please note that this summary describes results and interpretation that may not be final. Final interpretation of results will be in the peer-reviewed literature.


Despite the careful development of best practice recommendations from the child passenger safety community, high rates of child restraint system (CRS) misuse exists today.  When trying to target new research ideas to improve current problems, researchers often turn to industry leaders and child passenger safety experts for opinions and advice.  However, researchers rarely have the opportunity to interact with consumers and caregivers directly. Researchers do not have access to the direct consumer feedback which industry engineers can collect from customer service and marketing departments.  These direct data can be vitally important in recognizing gaps in consumer knowledge and identifying areas in which the messaging of experts is not resonating with the consumer population.  This project proposes to develop a web-based, informal survey in which parents can relay information regarding their car seat usage, knowledge, and attitudes to the CChIPS research and industry community.


The ultimate goal is to identify topics of greatest concern to consumers by opening the lines of communication between consumers, industry, and researchers. The specific aim of this study is to provide researchers with the following information to serve as a point of reference for the development of relevant future research projects:

  1. Gauge current caregiver attitudes regarding car seat usage
  2. Identify the reasoning behind parental car seat decisions
  3. Allow caregivers to examine their level of awareness and identify any gaps in knowledge
  4. Guide future education and outreach programs to better ensure parental compliance to child passenger recommendations.


An informal, open style survey was developed.  The survey asks caregivers basic information about the children they regularly transport, the types of car seats used, any difficulties experienced, their knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of various aspects of child passenger safety.  The questions are written in multiple choice and open-response styles so that caregivers have ample opportunity to convey all aspects of their opinions.  The survey is intended to remain active online for many years with very little maintenance, and the resulting data will be periodically reported to CChIPS.

Results from 1,120 survey respondents identify the most common sources of car safety information and suggest that 1) targeting these sources with accurate and up-to-date information may be a useful education strategy; and 2) increasing pediatrician involvement in car safety appears to be an area for improvement.


To date, 1,120 responses have been collected. Most respondents indicated a thorough understanding of CRS recommendations and usage, which may indicate a skewed population of respondents. Most consumers reported seeking car seat education from CRS instruction manuals and labels, as well as various online sources. Less than 20% received information from a pediatrician. Responses revealed details about hardships of CRS usage on airplanes, including transportation of the CRS itself through the airport and onto the plane, as well as lack of help from flight attendants. Some car seat check attendees also indicated that improvements to this experience might be warranted.


The car seat survey revealed several topics which future CChIPS studies might consider addressing. These topics represent areas of importance to today’s caregivers.

Project Team Members

Julie Bing, MS, The Ohio State University; Arrianna Willis, BS, The Ohio State University

IAB Mentors

Emily Thomas, Consumer Reports; Eric Dahle, Evenflo Company Inc.; Anthony Rosetto, FCA US LLC; Amanda Taylor, Federal Aviation Administration;  Lorrie Walker, Safe Kids Worldwide; Melissa Miles, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company; Uwe Meissner, Technical Adviser